Meaningful Baseball Games=Solid Wagering Options
by Mike Hayes - 08/28/2006
We once again approach the Labor Day weekend with the promise of meaningful baseball games through the entire month. And, with meaningful baseball games should come some solid wagering opportunities.
We'll start with the woeful National League, where mediocrity kept half of the league in the race most of the season.
NL EAST -- The Mets had this wrapped up long ago and until the injury bug hit, appeared to have a free pass to the Fall Classic. This is why they have been the first or second choice to win the World Series at most books since the All-Star break. It's highly unlikely the Mets will be involved in any meaningful baseball down the stretch and will use the final month of the season to get healthy and rested for the postseason.
NL CENTRAL - For most of the season the Cardinals looked as if they too would cruise to a Division title and in doing so they were one of the most profitable teams in all of baseball. After losing 18-of-25 recently, a streak resulting in a moneyline deficit of $1,383, they are now among the least profitable and found themselves in a tie with the Reds last week. A three-game sweep of the Cubs over the weekend coupled with the Reds dropping three to the Giants has given the Cards a three-game lead with just 31 to play. The unfortunate thing here is that the teams do not play each other again this season. The Reds schedule appears a tad more difficult as they play a three-game set at the Dodgers and have six games with the Padres. The rest of the schedule features sub .500 teams. The only team above .500 on the Cardinals slate is the Padres.
NL WEST - This appears to be a race between the aforementioned Padres and the upstart Dodgers, who will tangle in a four-game set in Los Angeles that begins Sept. 15. To date, the Padres have gotten the best of the Dodgers, winning the last six meetings in posting an 11-3 mark. Playing in LA shouldn't be a problem for the Padres, who are six games over .500 away from home and three under at Petco Park.
NL WILD CARD - Obviously, the loser of the Central and West will be in the mix, but it just might be the Phillies who emerge as the wild card winner. Just a few weeks ago the Phils had seven teams ahead of them in the wild card chase when GM Pat Gillick started waving the white flag and sent Bobby Abreu, Cory Lidle, Rheal Cormier and David Bell out of town. As of Monday morning the Phils were just one game out of the playoffs and after today's game against the Mets are looking at a schedule that has them playing their final 33 games against teams who are a combined 55 games below 500. Included in this mix are 10 games with the Marlins, who thanks To a seven-game winning streak, are just three back in the chase. Philadelphia has posted a 6-3 record against the Fish to date. Of the final 33 games, 19 are away from Citizen's Bank Ballpark. That's hardly bad news as the Phillies are 33-35 at home (minus $1,283 on the moneyline) and 32-29 on the road, where they have posted a moneyline profit of about $200. The Giants are two games behind thanks to their sweep of the Reds and do have three more games with the Reds next week.
Over in the American League the Yankees all but sealed up the East with last week's five-game sweep over the Red Sox who now find themselves on the periphery of the Wild Card race, 5.5 games behind the White Sox and Twins.
AL CENTRAL - The Tigers have managed to fend of the White Sox and Twins to this point so there's no reason to believe they are capable of blowing a five game lead, regardless of how young they are.
AL WEST - With a 5.5 game advantage, the A's appear headed to the playoffs but It's a bit early to count out the Angels thanks to seven games remaining against the A's, including a four-game set to end the season in Anaheim. The teams have split 10 games this season.
AL WILDCARD - There is a good chance this one could be decided when the White Sox and Twins end the season with a three-game series in Minnesota where the Twins are 24 games over .500. The teams square off for three games in Chicago this weekend where the Sox are an almost as impressive 42-25. Twins are 7-6 over first 13 meetings.
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