Playoff Baseball: THE AGONY AND THE OVER

Posted on October 7, 2019

What happens when a game stands still? Bettors gained another reminder of their unique presence in the sports world Saturday night via the MLB playoffs.

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Prop bets: A game OUTSIDE the game

Only in the amazing realm of NJ sports betting, intensified by mobile-app convenience, can an 8-2 verdict come down to the final out.  And it did with the MLB playoffs game: Yankees and Twins.

Betting the over nine runs prop turned from a sure-fire collection into a white-knuckled, sweat drenched ride because of one key catalyst that can’t be handicapped _ the mood of the game.

We’ve seen many over wagers cash early, as teams are able to pile on runs after a fast start.  But many of those games are competitive, and offenses take turns. This one was different because the game flow changed when the Yankees went up big early.

Both teams knew the issue was decided by the fourth inning and, from a bettor’s perspective, played out the string.

The game elevates the importance of a second, in-game wager if you feel the stagnation and want to double down.

THE SAGA of the MLB Playoffs

mlb playoffs yankees 2019 2020

First, a tip of the hat to William Hill oddsmakers, who nailed this prop perfectly. The over-under was nine and it was the second such display of genius in a matter of days. Remember the book having an over-under of 7.5 for the Nationals-Brewers and a Nationals win line so high that the only bet making sense was them giving a run and a half?

They won by a run. At 4-3. No run-line cover, no over. No win for Brewers bettors taking a stab at +166. I had lost the runs-margin wager and the over-under, but rallied with a seventh-inning in-bet at over 6.5 to “get out of jail.”

The William Hill book has been on a roll. There are others of course, especially Draft Kings, Fan Duel, etc., but William Hill is the app I used here and thus the point of reference.

I settled in for the over bets’ presumed cakewalk when the Yankees scored seven third-inning runs. Seven, marked by a Didi Gregorius grand salami that broke the game open and turned Yankee Stadium into bedlam. The blast marked the end of the actual game.

And it looked to be the clinching blow for over bettors, especially when the Twins scored one in the fourth to make it 8-1.

But that’s when the bats fell asleep. And for the over, it’s when the music died.

It was incomprehensible. Sure, the over bet was already a push, but can a team bat around in an inning, as the Yankees did in the third, and the game does NOT go over nine? How many unders include a Grand Slam?

That all looked remote in the fourth inning, when the over only needed one more run. Seemed like a lock in Yankee Stadium, one of the league’s top launching pads and especially because the Twins set a major league record with 307 homers this season.

But the run wasn’t coming.

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The transformation on the field was not good.  The body language of the hitters changed. Gone went the patience and the deep counts. When hitters went to the plate, they came, they saw, they hacked. And, like my grammar-school report card, zeroes mounted.

It was still likely that a cheap run would be gained against a string of middle-inning relievers thrown in by both teams. The Yankees and Twins scored nearly 1,900 runs between them this year. Surely there could be one more. But no.

A string of pitchers named Tommy Kahnle, Adam Ottavino and Tyler Lyons looked like Cy Young for the Yankees. The same went for Devin Smeltzer, Cody Stashak, Trevor May, Sergio Romo and Zack Littell for the Twins. As if knowing my bet, Twins manager Rocco Baldelli made a pitching change to face Aaron Judge with two outs in the 7th, with his team down seven.

In reality, he was telling the Twins he would not let them quit for the series.

It felt like the game could be played for another 20 hours and still finish 8-1. I looked to another  in-game bet. Under 9.5 beckoned. If the game ended right there, a push and a win loomed. Was it a good call?  But then came the second out of the bottom of the eighth inning and it changed the odds from -115 to -170. You snooze, you lose.

Invoking superstition, I tried to change the karma. Sat on the chair differently. Left the room. Got a soda.  Turned the sound up. Turned the sound down.

Finally, I was ready to accept the push. Texting with my buddy throughout the last four innings, we joked about our betting existence outside the field of real play. I turned off the set and PRESTO, came back to discover the ninth-inning magic of Luis Arraez smacking a two-out RBI double against Jonathan Loaisiga. The rescue came with one out left in the game.

Luis, MY MAN.

mlb playoffs yankees 2019 2020

It was a win. A “blown” cover and a come-from-behind steal. In the end, the bet came down to the Twin’s sixth-place hitter and the Yankees’ sixth pitcher, a world outside the world.

“Had it all the way,” my pal joked,  as he then followed the action he’d put on the Astros.

Sure I “had” it _ from a guaranteed win to sagging fortunes, the thought of a double down, acceptance of a push and then an unlikely win, all framed outside the existence of an 8-2 game.

No wonder prop bets make blood-pressure pills APP-propriate. We wouldn’t have it any other way in the MLB playoffs.

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Dave Bontempo Avatar
Written by
Dave Bontempo

Dave Bontempo, a national multi-award-winning writer, and broadcaster, writes extensively on the evolving legalized sports-wagering world. Over the past four decades, he has called fights for all major networks, authored columns for the Associated Press, Atlantic City Press, and iGaming Player. He is in the New Jersey Boxing Hall of Fame, the Atlantic City Boxing Hall of Fame and a Sam Taub Award for broadcast excellence, given by the Boxing Writers Association of America.

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