Baseball BeatFebruary 06, 2005
Viva Las Vegas
By Rich Lederer

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.


Nice piece. Given those profit margins its probably foolish to wager anything, but the odds on the A's in particular look pretty enticing. Dodger odds look good too. I think if one were to eliminate the 4 lowest odd teams per league and pick and choose between the 2 casinos on 3 or 4 medium high odd teams, you could do worse. Tho it seems the Paris overall profit margin is quite a bit more generous than MGM/M. Good to see Pete is getting the support he deserves.

Can I place a "don't come" bet on the Cubs? I can't believe they're installed as the odds-on NL favorite!

Based on the MGM/Mirage lines, the Cubs are favored to win the NLCS. However, they are not the "odds on" favorite. By definition, an "odds on" favorite would have a better than even chance of winning.

Cubs are twice as favored then the Giants or Marlins!