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Friday, December 17, 2004

Sports: Taking to the Airwaves 

I calld into a talk show yesterday for the third time ever. As I left work my radio was tuned to the local ESPN affiliate here and the hosts were discussing baseball and gambling, in part because of Vegas' desire to secure a major league team.

Their concerns for foul play led to a discussion on betting baseball games. So one yahoo says to the other, "I can't figure out these baseball lines. How do you gamble baseball?" Yahoo number two, in his dopiest voice, replies that it's too complicated, and no one knows how to do it. Of course they turn to the audience for help.

For whatever reason, I called in. Now it should say something about the popularity of your station that on a drive-time show, someone can call in and be on the air in less the 30 seconds, but that's what happened.

I explained that betting baseball isn't hard at all. You have two numbers -- each corresponds with the bet and the payout for the respective teams. Take, for example, the following line:

Houston 5.5 - 6.5 St. Louis
This line use a $5 bet/payout as the example (most Vegas lines use a $100 system), and in the newspaper it's usually explained as a $5 system. It means that if you bet the underdog (in this case Houston), you win $5.50 on a $5 bet. If you bet the favorite (St. Louis), you have to wager $6.50 to win $5.

The hosts contended that football gambling was much more popular than baseball gambling because point spreads are less confusing than money lines. I should point out that in Vegas, and I'm guessing on most online sports books, you can find casinos or sites that allow you to do spreads on baseball games as well as money lines on football.

Football gambling is more popular than baseball gambling because (a) football is more popular than baseball overall, and (b) NFL Sundays are an event -- you get the NFL Ticket or go to a sportsbar because you can kill an entire day watching ten or twelve games at the same time. Baseball staggers its schedule over 162 games and one day of games is no more of a big deal than any other.

Besides, there are plenty of people that bet baseball all the time. In a given season I wouldn't if NFL gambling and MLB gambling were roughly equal. Last time I was in Vegas I bet a few games, and matt and I even met one guy that said he makes his living betting baseball games. He had a bet down for $9G on a Red Sox-Braves game, which he won.

Long story short (too late, I know), but if this doesn't prove yet again how bad Austin sports radio is, then I don't know what it would take. I thought that 1300 The Zone's afternoon show was horrid, but at least Chad Hastings and Kevin Dunn don't rely on being ignorant to try and induce listeners to call in and hand-hold their way through simple concepts.


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