Viva Las Vegas
I was in Las Vegas on Thursday and Friday on business and wanted to share a few baseball stories from my trip.
As my wife and I were walking down Las Vegas Boulevard on Thursday afternoon, we were approached by a salesman (for the lack of a better word) who asked if we were interested in getting Pete Rose's autograph while pointing in the direction of a pathetic man sitting behind a desk with not a soul in sight. Not that I had any interest but I asked him, "How much?" (I was more curious than anything else.) He said, "Fifty dollars." I shook my head and muttered, "I don't think Pete should have to pay me that much."
We laughed and began to walk away when the man hawking Rose's signature took a few steps in our direction, offering a bonus. "You can even get your photo taken with him." My wife beat me to the punch. "That assumes you like him." I felt as if I was watching one of those ads on cable-TV. "Limited supply. Call now and you will receive. . ."
I looked back over my shoulder and took one more look at the former player, thinking to myself that the nickname "Charlie Hustle" was more appropriate today than ever. After checking out the MGM for a bit, we walked past Rose on our way back and noticed once again not a single person in line awaiting his signature. I think he should have named his latest book, "My Prison Without Adoring Fans."
Talk of Rose allows a nice segue into the odds to win the 2005 World Series posted by three casinos. The Mirage and MGM are both owned by. . .drumroll, please. . .MGM Mirage -- pretty creative, ehh? -- and, as such, have identical lines. Paris Las Vegas is owned by Caesars Entertainment (soon to be part of Harrah's) and, for the most part, had a different set of odds.
MGM/Mirage Paris Las Vegas Team ALCS WS ALCS WS New York Yankees Even 2/1 13/10 2/1 Boston Red Sox 3/2 5/2 2/1 4/1 Anaheim Angels 4/1 7/1 3/1 6/1 Minnesota Twins 8/1 15/1 7/1 15/1 Chicago White Sox 10/1 20/1 12/1 30/1 Texas Rangers 15/1 30/1 15/1 30/1 Cleveland Indians 15/1 30/1 15/1 35/1 Baltimore Orioles 15/1 30/1 18/1 35/1 Seattle Mariners 25/1 40/1 12/1 28/1 Oakland A's 25/1 40/1 30/1 60/1 Detroit Tigers 30/1 60/1 20/1 40/1 Toronto Blue Jays 50/1 100/1 50/1 100/1 Tampa Bay Devil Rays 75/1 150/1 100/1 200/1 Kansas City Royals 150/1 400/1 85/1 175/1
MGM/Mirage Paris Las Vegas Team NLCS WS NLCS WS Chicago Cubs 5/2 6/1 5/2 5/1 St. Louis Cardinals 3/1 7/1 2/1 9/2 Atlanta Braves 4/1 7/1 6/1 12/1 San Francisco Giants 5/1 15/1 6/1 12/1 Florida Marlins 10/1 20/1 6/1 12/1 New York Mets 5/1 12/1 6/1 12/1 San Diego Padres 10/1 20/1 10/1 20/1 Philadelphia Phillies 8/1 15/1 10/1 22/1 Los Angeles Dodgers 12/1 25/1 12/1 28/1 Houston Astros 5/1 10/1 12/1 25/1 Arizona Diamondbacks 60/1 100/1 25/1 50/1 Cincinnati Reds 50/1 100/1 40/1 85/1 Pittsburgh Pirates 100/1 200/1 60/1 125/1 Milwaukee Brewers 75/1 150/1 85/1 175/1 Colorado Rockies 50/1 100/1 125/1 200/1 Washington Nationals 125/1 250/1 75/1 200/1
If you like the Red Sox, then you should place your bet at Paris Las Vegas rather than MGM or The Mirage. On the other hand, if you wanted to put something down on the Cardinals, then you should head over to MGM or The Mirage.
The New York Mets had the biggest reduction from the opening three months ago (60/1) to the current odds (12/1). Can you say Pedro Martinez and Carlos Beltran? Conversely, the Oakland A's had the biggest increase (from 18/1 to 60/1). I guess the bettors liked Tim Hudson and Mark Mulder more than the Dans (Meyer and Haren).
Interestingly, Paris had a higher line on the Colorado Rockies to win the NLCS (125/1) than the MGM/The Mirage did to win the World Series (100/1). It's too bad you couldn't bet the middle on the Houston Astros by going long at the Paris' odds (25/1) and shorting MGM's line (10/1). A man could retire arbitraging such bets.
Why do such disparities exist in the first place? My guess in this case is that MGM has a lot of exposure on Houston and simply doesn't want any more action on the Astros.
The Race & Sports Books in Vegas know what they are doing. If the casinos were able to balance their takes, they would stand to make about a 65% profit on the ALCS and NLCS propositions and approximately 80% on the World Series. These outlandish margins on futures compare to the more normal vigorish of 10% on standard bets (such as which team is going to win a particular game).
I got a kick out of the disclaimer on the sheets listing the odds. "All bets are action regardless of team change in name or site." (The Anaheim Angels was their description, not mine.) Similarly, the Paris sheet was the only one of the three to concede the following: "If any team is eliminated by Major League Baseball, all wagers on that team will be refunded." That must make Florida Marlins or Minnesota Twins fans breath a little bit easier, at least while Bud Selig is still in office.
MGM/Mirage even offered a proposition on the number of John Smoltz wins during the 2005 regular season. The over/under was 14 1/2. Either way, you lay $120 to win $100. Smoltz must start 25 games "regardless of what team he plays for" or there is no action.
Speaking of odds, what are the chances of having a tire blow-out on a rental car? I gotta think they are longer than those on the Kansas City Royals winning it all this year. I had driven a total of 12 miles when the front right tire of the Lincoln Town Car I was driving literally tore apart. I was close enough to the hotel that I was able to nurse the car back to the parking garage. I called Hertz for roadside assistance and scheduled a time later that evening for a tow truck to replace the tire.
In the meantime, my wife and I took a taxi to The Mirage where we watched Danny Gans, comedian-impersonator-singer extraordinaire, put on an entertaining show in -- of all places -- The Danny Gans Theatre. Gans, in fact, was drafted by three major-league baseball teams, turning down the Royals and the Chicago White Sox before signing with his hometown Los Angeles Dodgers. His baseball career ended prematurely when he severed his Achilles tendon in a collision with another player at first base in 1980. Gans went on to play shortstop Deke Rivers in Bull Durham before hitting the big-time in Vegas.
We took a taxi back to the hotel after the show and waited at the car for roadside assistance. The tow-truck operator replaced the flat tire with one of those miniature spares and pointed to a bubble forming on the rear right tire. Not wanting to risk a problem the following morning on my drive to a scheduled appointment in North Las Vegas, we decided to drive back to the rental lot to exchange cars.
When the Hertz representative presented me with the keys to a Lincoln LS, I felt as if I had traded down much in the same way as Jim Hendry when he exchanged a Sammy Sosa model for a Jeromy Burnitz while being stuck with the former tab. However, it was now midnight and I was more interested in getting back to the hotel to sleep than in fighting with the Hertz rep.
Life isn't all that bad though. The Danny Gans Show was sold out, yet we were lucky enough to get two tickets center aisle in the seventh row of a 1200-seat theatre just two hours before the performance began. The tickets had been returned moments earlier. The moral of the story? You win some, you lose some. Especially in Vegas.