Episode 112: Invader Szym

Episode 111: Invader Szym

In the hundred-and-twelfth episode, Thomas and Danny are joined by ESPN’s Dan Szymborski to talk about Hunter Pence’s contract and recap the 2013 season.

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World Series Odds As Of October 9


The MLB playoffs are well underway, and with each passing day we’re getting a clearer picture of who might be vying for the top prize come early November. It’s been an exciting round of division series match-ups, with not a single series being decided in a sweep, and until late Monday night all 8 divisional playoff teams were still alive. But with the division series wrapping up, it’s time to turn our attention forward and take a look at which of the remaining teams have the best odds to win the World Series.

For some specific sports betting odds, we’ll be referencing betting.betfair.com in the section on sports betting devoted specifically to the MLB, you can find updated fixed odds on each team’s chances to win the World Series. This is a particularly helpful source, because instead of simply placing odds on each individual game or series, the service places a value on each team’s overall chances. So, using these odds, here’s where the 6 remaining teams stack up, as of Wednesday, October 9th.

  • Boston Red Sox – With 2/1 backing odds, the Red Sox are effectively the listed favorite to win the World Series. After closing out the Tampa Bay Rays late Tuesday night at Tropicana Field, the Sox certainly look like arguably the most well-rounded team heading forward, and will have home field advantage in the ALCS.
  •  Los Angeles Dodgers – 13/5 odds essentially translate to 2.6/1 odds, putting the Dodgers just a hair behind the Sox. Los Angeles dispatched the Braves with relative ease, winning 3-1, and will have time to set up their rotation exactly as they wish for a series against either the Cardinals or Pirates.
  •  St. Louis Cardinals – 5/1 odds are good for a tie for 3rd best, which is interesting given that the Cardinals are facing a must-win game 5 at home on Wednesday night. That said, the Cardinals will be pitting Adam Wainwright against rookie starter Gerrit Cole, so there’s a significant experience edge in starting pitching.
  •  Detroit Tigers – 5/1 odds, they’re tied with the Cardinals. However, Detroit will have to get by the A’s in Oakland in game 5 just to advance to the ALCS. The Tigers will at least have ace Justin Verlander on the mound for the deciding game.
  •  Oakland Athletics – 7/1 odds, good for 5th best overall, and though the A’s have to beat Justin Verlander, they’ll get the chance to do so at home, behind Cy Young candidate Bartolo Colon. Game 5 in this series is all but a toss-up.
  •  Pittsburgh Pirates – 10/1 odds, the worst of any team remaining. The task of beating the Cardinals in St. Louis behind a talented but inexperienced rookie starter is a very difficult prospect.

Those are the odds as they stand now, and for a look at the schedule from here on out, you can visit mlb.com for updated games and series. Stay tuned for updates as the postseason progresses!

Larry Baer for Commissioner?

In a piece today on ESPN, baseball writer Jayson Stark mentions San Francisco Giants CEO Larry Baer as a dark horse candidate to replace Bud Selig as the commissioner of Major League Baseball. Selig announced today that he will step down from the office after the 2014 season. CBS Sports’ Jon Heyman had the initial report, which lists Selig’s last day as commissioner as January 24, 2015.

Though not a front-runner, Baer has to be mentioned as candidate because of his qualifications. The job of commissioner is three-fold:

-Represent (aka be the CEO) for MLB’s 30 owners

-Shape the global image of baseball

-Provide an outlet for fan scrutiny

Baer hits all three of these points quite nicely. As the CEO of the Giants, he represents a core group of owners whose financial interests are tied to the decisions made by Baer and his administration. From the outside looking in, the Giants appear to be one of the more profitable teams in baseball. Estimates of the Giants payroll for 2013 hovers around $140 million, the 6th-highest in baseball. AT&T Park is a sellout-machine, with 2017 seeing the conclusion of the $20 million annual mortgage payment that began when the park opened in 2000. Forbes has the Giants at No. 7 in Major League Baseball in net worth, and estimates an operating profit of $17 million per season. Suffice to say if Baer does leave, the Giants will be in good financial shape.

With three World Baseball Classics now in the books, the international market for baseball has never been better. Baseball, entrenched in Latin America and Japan for decades, is spreading to WBC-participant countries like Australia, Spain, Italy and the Netherlands. AT&T Park (and the Giants) hosted the championship rounds of the 2013 WBC, introducing their beautiful ballpark to a worldwide audience. The Classic set all kinds of records, including the most-watched television event in the Dominican Republic in a decade.

As far as individual international players, the marketing machine behind Venezuelan-born Pablo Sandoval has been inspired. Panda hats litter the California coast, helping fans embrace a foreign-born player whose enthusiasm for the game knows no bounds. Sandoval’s English isn’t perfect, but his connection to the fans has been something Baer and his team have been able to capitalize on.

Giants fans most remember Baer from his World Series Parade speeches or interviews with Amy G during games. He comes off warm, jovial and enthusiastic about the team. His media persona seems uncoached and genuine, something stodgy owners appear incapable of accomplishing.

Will Larry Baer be the next commissioner of baseball? No, probably not. But he should be a candidate, and the Giants would be worse-off to lose their CEO.