Indians Situation Creates Betting Conundrum
by Robert Ferringo - 04/09/2007
I've said it before and I'll say it again: Mother Nature can be a filthy whore when she wants to be. And now she has something in common with former president Andrew Jackson. They both hate Indians.
First, Mother Nature decided to ramp up the pollen count in Georgia, which has accelerated my development of allergies. Up to this point my body has been indestructible, save for the occasional bite of a vampire bat or a half-liter funnel of Absolut Vodka. As if that weren't bad enough, she decided to blanket the country with a spell of unseasonably cold weather last week, delivering one last wintry kick in the groin for the fine folks who live north of the Mason-Dixon Line.
Collateral damage from Nature's spat of PMS was a scheduled series between Seattle and Cleveland at Jacobs Field, as well as the Indians' upcoming series with the Los Angeles Angels. The game was postponed, with no makeup date yet set. It was the first time an entire series has been lost since Hurricane Flo waltzed through South Florida and nixed a Cubs-Marlins get together.
Seattle heads on to Boston now where they get to bathe in Dice-K Mania as they face Daisuke Matsuzaka in his Fenway debut on Tuesday afternoon. And in case you're wondering how the Mariners are holding up following the weekend winter wonderland, one Internet report said that after Sunday's doubleheader was cancelled several Seattle players hung around and made snow angels on Jacobs Field. How cute.
But the weather woes make for an interesting situation for the Indians. Technically, Cleveland hasn't played a home game yet this year. They were one strike away from a victory on Friday over the Mariners when Mike Hargrove pulled out the stall tactics and held out until the game was cancelled. Not only did the Indians lose a four-game home stand but they also lost the momentum they had built up from a series victory over division rival Chicago.
And to make matters worse, Cleveland's next home series was supposed to be a Tuesday-Thursday set as hosts to the Angels. However, in Bud Selig's infinite wisdom the series was relocated from Cleveland to Milwaukee. Yes, you read that right - Milwaukee. I'm sure the choice of locale had nothing to do with Selig's personal ties to that area, and wasn't in any way an attempt to drum up a little extra dough for folks associated with his former club. But I do think the possibility exists for the first-ever Major League Game with an attendance in the low 200s.
The Indians were set to travel to Los Angeles for a three-game series in May and will also head west for four games in September. Apparently swapping out this series for one of those - honoring the tickets for the opposite events and maybe sprinkling in a doubleheader made less sense than playing in Milwaukee. I don't know.
The question now is how will this extended layoff and change of venue effect the hard-hitting Indians or the red-hot Angels? Damned if I know. But what I can tell you is that oddsmakers are certainly taking the odd situation into account.
"We'll probably just take a little bit off the home team and leave it at that," said Las Vegas Sports Consultants oddsmaker Pete Korner in published Internet reports. "Cleveland will still have a little bit of an advantage because it bats last, but that's really it."
The Angels (5-2) are just coming off a split against Oakland and had an off day for travel before Game 1. They'll be throwing Ervin Santana against Cleveland's C.C. Sabathia on Tuesday at 8 p.m. EST. Cleveland has been posted as a -142 favorite with Los Angeles fetching +129 as an underdog.
I don't know about you, but there's no way I'd be laying nearly -150 on a team that hasn't played in over four days and currently holds the league's third-worst ERA (5.54). Cleveland's sticks may have had enough time to cool off and its starters completely out of rhythm (and I'm sure Sabathia has been hitting the fridge HARD this weekend).
However, I will say that Cleveland does have the benefit of a very rested bullpen. Also, they've been able to reset their starting rotation so at least they get to throw their best arms at Vlad Guerrero and Co. Cleveland will trot out Jake Westbrook to face lefty Joe Saunders on Wednesday and then match lefty Jeremy Sowers against Angels righty Dustin Moseley on Thursday.
From a handicapper's perspective this one is tough to call. I think in Game 1 the play needs to be either to stay away altogether or take the Angels. I know that sounds odd, but they have value in a situation where we're unsure how either team is going to respond. After that, it's a crapshoot. I think that Cleveland has the edge with its No. 2 and No. 3 starters facing the back end of the Angels rotation. But I will likely be sitting this one out.
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