Leaving Las Vegas
Having spent the past couple days in Las Vegas, I'm heading home today. I'm not a huge fan of Vegas per se but can take the Entertainment Capital of the World in small doses from time to time.
Flying in the face of the adage, "What happens in Vegas stays in Vegas," I'm going to report on my long weekend in the largest U.S. city founded in the 20th century.
Rather than walking up and down The Strip looking for Pete Rose, my wife and I decided to spend virtually all of our time at The Venetian. I booked a room and purchased tickets to see Phantom of the Opera a couple of months ago. My tip of the week doesn't involve a sports bet. Instead, if you have a reason to be in Vegas, be sure to see the Phantom. The musical is a favorite of ours, having seen Andrew Lloyd Webber's hit three times when it was playing in Los Angeles (including all three Phantoms - Michael Crawford, Robert Guillaume, and Davis Gaines). In any event, I don't think you will be disappointed in the Vegas version of the longest running musical on Broadway.
Arriving at about the time of the Ohio State-Texas football game on Saturday evening, I decided to check out the Sports Book while my wife fed the slots. I learned that USC was 10/1 to win the Bowl Championship Series but was unable to place such a bet during the OSU-TEX game. When I returned the following morning, the line had dropped to 7/1. I passed. I'm not sure what USC did in the preceding 18 hours to get the linesmakers to reduce their odds, but I didn't think the Trojans were all that attractive at that price.
While everyone around me was placing bets on the NFL, I asked the gentleman at the window for updated lines on the American and National League pennants as well as the World Series. Here is the information directly from the pieces of thermal paper I was given:
ODDS TO WIN 2006 A.L. PENNANT
YANKEES +120 RED SOX 50/1 WHITE SOX +350 INDIANS 250/1 ANGELS 20/1 ATHLETICS +500 RANGERS 100/1 ORIOLES OFF TWINS +300 TIGERS +200 BLUE JAYS 85/1 MARINERS 200/1 DEVIL RAYS OFF ROYALS OFF
ODDS TO WIN 2006 N.L. PENNANT
CARDINALS +400 BRAVES 90/1 ASTROS +800 MARLINS 14/1 METS EVEN CUBS OFF PHILLIES 12/1 PADRES 12/1 GIANTS 12/1 DODGERS +500 D'BACKS 100/1 BREWERS 150/1 NATIONALS OFF REDS 40/1 PIRATES OFF ROCKIES 150/1
ODDS TO WIN 2006 WORLD SERIES
YANKEES +300 CARDINALS 12/1 RED SOX 125/1 WHITE SOX +800 INDIANS 500/1 BRAVES 200/1 ASTROS 20/1 ANGELS 50/1 MARLINS 60/1 METS +350 ATHLETICS 12/1 CUBS OFF PHILLIES 40/1 PADRES 30/1 GIANTS 35/1 DODGERS 12/1 RANGERS 250/1 ORIOLES OFF D'BACKS 250/1 TWINS +700 TIGERS +450 BLUE JAYS 200/1 BREWERS 350/1 MARINERS 500/1 NATIONALS OFF DEVIL RAYS OFF REDS 100/1 PIRATES OFF ROCKIES 350/1 ROYALS OFF
Interestingly, the order of appearance was based on the opening lines last fall. The Yankees were the favorites back then and continue to be the team of choice as the season heads into the final three weeks. The Red Sox and Indians in the A.L. and the Braves and Cubs in the N.L. have been the biggest disappointments in 2006. On the other hand, the Twins and Tigers easily qualify as the greatest surprises of the season.
A few teams looked tempting to me even if the odds were a bit short across the board. To wit, if you add up all of the lines in the A.L., the book has about a 50% profit margin built in (assuming equal money is bet on all teams still on the board). At roughly 30%, the N.L. pennant and World Series odds aren't stacked against the bettor quite as much.
At -115, I actually bet the house on Jered Weaver and the Angels to beat Roy Halladay and the Blue Jays on Sunday. Just kidding. Besides, who needs two houses anyway? As it turned out, Weaver was the Angel of Music, striking out former Halo Troy Glaus with the bases loaded to escape a jam in the fifth. The rookie won his 11th game against just two losses as Los Angeles beat Toronto 4-3.
By the way, with respect to the title of this entry, Nicholas Cage is my least favorite "known" actor. My favorite? A tie for first between Robert De Niro and Edward Norton. If De Niro was the successor to Marlon Brando, then Norton is following in the former's footsteps in about the same manner. My first exposure to De Niro was as the dying MLB player in Bang the Drum Slowly (1973). Although De Niro would never pass for a big-league catcher, he made the part work in baseball's fictional version of Brian's Song (1971). Speaking of the latter film, to this day, I have never understood why Hollywood felt the need to do a remake. Give me James Caan and Billy Dee Williams anytime.