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Getting it Right, But Being Wrong

MLB Betting: Getting it Right But Being Wrong

By Loot, MLB Handicapper,

Baseball is tricky. You have to take a ton of info under consideration and then somehow synthesize it into a single calculation of how a game will likely unfold in relation to the odds. Not easy. The really painful part can be when you actually manage to handicap the heck out of a game and you still lose. Not because of anything you overlooked, but because of some madcap twist of fate that in no way could have been foreseen unless you were a fortune teller.

It's important to gauge the potential for the "un-handicappable" before even dipping our big toes into the pool of baseball wagering. This isn't chess. A lot, if not everything, that happens on the diamond is bound to the judgment of humans, most of whom aren't even playing. That opens us up as bettors to a slew of unpredictable variables, which will have various levels of impact on the game we are wagering. There will certainly be a lot of games that play out to their natural conclusion with no undue influence. But many games will come down to things we will never be able to see coming.

Most bettor angst is obviously focused on the umpires. Begin betting on baseball and see how long it takes before some sketchy umpire calls cost you a winner. It won't take long. Let's keep a few things in mind as it pertains to umpire performance and its affect on games we bet. First of all, they are the best in the world. There are thousands of baseball games taking place all over the world and the percentage of those who make it to the big leagues is tiny.

When we're betting, it will seem like the umpiring is worse than we ever noticed. It's important to remember that we are looking at the game under a microscope. When you have money riding on a game, you will be watching the game with heightened senses. Things that perhaps didn't bother you so much from a fan perspective will now come crashing onto your radar screen. Of course, the world isn't conspiring against your bets--you're just looking at it through different lenses now.

That doesn't make it any easier. You'll be betting on a game where a called ball should have ended the inning. With an extra shot at it. the guy hits a three-run homer, blowing a gaping hole into your wager. And if it's a game with a lot of bang-bang plays on the base-paths, there just might be a bad call. Umpire miscues can take many different forms.

Let's keep in mind that over the course of our wagering, we should be able to catch as many good breaks as bad ones. The bad ones will always stick out more. Negativity always does. Unless you are absolutely snake-bitten, you should have some bad calls bounce in your favor. The cold and hard reality of it is that if you have made a significant number of wagers and are losing, it's not bad umpiring that is the main culprit. It makes an easy scapegoat, but chances are that there is something bad swirling within you that is poisoning your wagering.

That doesn't mean that things won't pop up from time to time that make it hard to remain composed. We can look at players and managers all we want, but for the most part, it will be impossible to pinpoint potential problems. Players can mess up in any number of ways. And that includes players who are not known as being mistake-prone. It's one thing when a shortstop with 22 errors at the All-Star break boots one--that can be handicapped on some level. Most of it isn't that conveniently researchable.


Sometimes, you'll see a normally-solid manager mishandle the pitching. He'll give the starter who is cruising an early hook and bring in some reliever with dubious credentials, which results in the other team coming back for a win. Or the manager tries to let a young starter work through a tough afternoon, despite good relievers being ready to go. Next thing you know, you're down 7-1 and on your way to a loss. It can be anything and most of it was impossible to forecast.

All we can do as bettors is chalk it up as part of doing business. The human element is part of this game and mistakes come with the territory. At the end of the day, it should at least somewhat even out and it will be the quality of our handicapping which will determine if we can make it in the crazy world of baseball wagering.

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