Sunday Night Baseball Betting Angles
by Robert Ferringo - 07/07/2007
Monday Night Football is more than a weekly clash of hyper-adrenal berserkers -- it's an institution, like Christmas and assisted suicide. It's a celebration and the MNF game marks both the crescendo and the conclusion of the gambling week for our nation's most popular sport.
Well, if Monday Night Football is Christmas then Sunday Night Baseball is Flag Day.
I understand that Football is King in this country, and that betting on baseball is little more than a hobby or diversion to the general betting public, but it always surprised me that more people didn't track the trends of betting Sunday Night Baseball on ESPN like they do Monday Night Football. Again, it's a stretch to compare the two sports or the overall impact of MNF vs. SNB. However, both are unique, primetime match-ups within their respective sports and both create an interesting pocket of awkward angles and subtle situations that a bettor can exploit for his or her personal gain.
I took a very rudimentary look at the results of Sunday Night Baseball since the start of 2006. By my count there have been 37 games played on Sunday evening since April of last year. It's a small sample size but targeting SNB games is tougher than you'd think, as opposed to the plethora of info available for MNF games. But it's not too small to glean some info. I didn't pick up any solid trends on the Sunday Night games themselves - again, I'm talking about superficial analysis as opposed to how teams with better OPS perform - I did notice a few bounce back and letdown angles that played out to a moneymaking tune.
Initially I was looking for info to back up my original hypothesis that you could make money fading all of the teams off the Sunday Night Games. Since they've been robbed of travel time or recouping time, on top of the natural letdown of playing in a nationally televised game, I assumed they would be at a marked disadvantage. Nope. Only 44 of a possible 74 teams played on Monday after a Sunday Night game and those teams went 24-20 overall following their joust in front of Joe Morgan. I figured that an off day would curb any positive or negative momentum that a team had, so I didn't consider how teams played the Tuesday following. Also, I threw out any games where the same teams squared off the following day.
Anyway, the most interesting and useful numbers I found were that, recently, teams playing at home after an appearance on SNB were an astounding 14-4 on Monday and teams that went on the road the next day were a horrendous 4-15. Again, the sample size is minute but those numbers are still worth taking note of. In 2007 alone, teams playing at home directly following a SNB game are 7-1 and teams that have to travel the night of the Lord's Day are 1-9 the next evening.
Performances are pretty standard across the home teams - home off a home loss, home off a road win, etc. - but one noticeably strong situation is to "play on" teams at home on Monday after a road loss on Sunday. Clubs are 6-2 in those situations. But the other benefit of these situations is that, generally speaking, these teams are likely to be undervalued by the books and the squares because they faltered in a high profile situation the night before.
As for road teams, the primary situation to "play against" was a squad on the road following a road loss. It's not rocket science to bet on a road team if it's a club's second or third away series in a row, but when you factor in the condensed travel time and the unorthodox routine that playing late on Sunday brings, then the logic becomes clear.
I also tried to analyze specific team performances on SNB but there really wasn't much going on. Trying to make predictions based on seven games or less is pretty flimsy in my eyes. However, it was worth noting that over the past two years the best SNB team has been the Texas Rangers at 5-2, followed by the Red Sox at 4-2. The Rangers were also a solid 3-1 the following Monday and the Atlanta Braves were a perfect 3-0 with a Monday morning hangover. These aren't worth a can of Orlando Hernandez's chew right now but another one of the keys to being a successful gambler is being able to predict long-term trends before they happen.
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