What Does Vegas Know, Anyway? (aka Slow Your Roll, Cubs Fans)

As you are probably aware, the Chicago Cubs are, and have been since the end of last season, the odds-on favorite to win the 2016 World Series. That is according to Vegas as well as some off-shore betting sites. As 4:1 favorites to win it all by most accounts, this implies there is exactly a 100% chance that the Cubs will win the 2016 World Series…assuming they play out the 2016 season four times in four parallel realities. Hey, at least that beats the 12 alternate universes the Mets would need to win!

You likely are also aware that this sort of thing sets up a team and its fans for failure and disappointment. With exceedingly lofty expectations comes excessive DOOM! The universe says “it is known”. And this being the Cubs (…107 and counting…), the doomsday scenario seems all but assured already, does it not? Do we know the Cubs will win or do we know they’ll never win? As with Schrödinger’s cat, I tend to believe both are true, and at the very same time, neither are true.

You can buy this at http://www.lookhuman.com

All of this brings me to a question I posed to my friend Google earlier today when thinking upon the Cubs’ current situation. That is, who was the last team to win the World Series after being declared the Vegas favorite during the preseason? The waters are murky but I believe I have the answer: the 2009 Yankees.

I began my research with this Bleacher Report article from 2013 that answers this very question for the 2008 through 2012 seasons. I extended past that year by way of selective Google’ing. To summarize:

2008 – Red Sox (lost in ALCS; Phillies win W.S.)

2009 – Yankees (well played, Vegas)

2010 – Yankees (lost in ALCS; Giants win W.S.)

2011 – Phillies (lost in NLDS; Cardinals win W.S.)

2012 – Phillies (didn’t make the playoffs; Giants win W.S.)

2013 – Blue Jays (didn’t make the playoffs; Red Sox win W.S.)

2014 – Dodgers (lost in NLDS; Giants win W.S.)

2015 – Nationals (didn’t make the playoffs; Royals win W.S.)

2016 – Cubs (DOOOOOOOOOOM!?!?!?!?!)

Conclusion: place bets at your own risk! As you can see it’s been awhile since Vegas got it right.

So Cubs fans, please keep your cool. Slow that roll, my Teddy Broosevelts and Brohinas. In fact, pretend it’s still a rebuilding year because in some weird way it still is a rebuilding year. They are awfully young and there will be growing pains. Also, don’t forget those pesky Red Birds…they have a way of winning when they aren’t supposed to (see 2011).

17 thoughts on “What Does Vegas Know, Anyway? (aka Slow Your Roll, Cubs Fans)

  1. An issue of some importance to us Houston fans also, since the Astros are favored to win the AL pennant. (Only seven alternate realities needed, which in String Theory should be the equivalent of a lead pipe cinch).

    And don’t get me started on Science/Bar jokes. My geek friends have a million of them.


    1. So what Chicago based name can he and Mrs. Zoby give the Chicago World Series baby? Little Bear Zobrist?


  2. In fairness to Vegas….they aren’t trying to get it right, they are trying to set lines that balance the betting so they can make bank. If a fan base goes nuts, they have to raise the odds to avoid disaster if the team actually wins.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Yeah. As someone whose gambling problems are hibernating (hopefully for a very long time) those odds/lines are never about picking the actual winners of a competition or the best thing among a group of things.

      They just want to make things look appealing to as wide a range of suckers as possible, so as to part the bulk of them from their coin. And to answer the question posed in the title…what does Vegas know anyway?….they know how to do exactly that.


        1. Vegas doesn’t care so much about the quickly part.

          Have you seen the shrunken blue-haired old ladies at those slots? They aren’t doing anything quickly, but those quarters still go in those machines.


        2. Oh, it’s quick alright. I call the slots “ADMs”. Automatic Deposit Machines. I had $20 in coins. 5 minutes later, I had no money left, and nothing to show for it. Well, that was fun. I’ll pass. I can think of lots more fun things I can do with $20.

          Their appeal. Variable schedule of reinforcement. The same psychology behind playing hard to get.


        3. That’s cause you are a wham-bam-thank-you-ma’am type of girl…on the slots anyway.

          Those shrunken blue-hair old ladies will spend hours and hours and hours playing a single roll of quarters.


        4. ROFL

          I’d rather play Blackjack or Roulette. I like poker, but I have absolutely no poker face. Zero. My emotions are an open book. Yay, I have straight flush! Oh fuck, I wasn’t supposed to let everyone know that. I suck.

          I’ll just drink.


        5. I won almost $50K in ’03 and ’04 combined playing online poker. Not quite enough to justify making the leap of quitting my “real job” and actually being a poker professional…but not an insignificant amount either. There were just sooooooo many suckers floating around back then, people watching people play on tv and thinking it was easy.

          Then I turned around and lost $30K in ’05. Partly because I moved up to higher stakes, which meant a noticeable uptick in overall player quality….and partly because most of those suckers I’d been preying upon had finally realized they were the suckers and gotten out. By the time the government stepped in and clamped down on all of that online poker business, I was already out myself.

          If you’d like a tiny gambling tip — roulette has arguably the best odds in the casino…but only if you play it right.

          Try to find a wheel with just one green zero space, and never bet on the actual numbers. Just bet red/black or odd/even. That will make 18 of the 37 slices on the wheel a winner for you, and it’s hard to find anything much closer to 50-50 in a casino.


        6. I never bet numbers on roulette. Just colors and even/odds like you said. Having taken basic mathematics classes, I quickly realized the odds were significantly better. I did well on a small investment. I don’t gamble high stakes.


    2. Which is why LA teams tend to be consistently overrated in the Vegas lines. A lot of southern California money flows right over the border and distorts the playing odds.


  3. Random Cub stat of the day — Schwarber got a pair of hits off Kershaw today.

    Yes, it’s early in spring training and Kershaw isn’t KERSHAW right now. But Kershaw even at 25% is still pretty gawddamned good and Schwarber looked pretty exposed against LHP last year, hitting .143 in 56 AB’s. It’s not a huge deal, but it’s a nice little happy thing.

    Liked by 1 person

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