Game 5 odds: Nationals are slight favorites, Yankees are big favorites

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With a pair of winner-take-all games tonight I thought it would be interesting to examine the Las Vegas betting lines (for entertainment purposes only, of course).

In the early game the Yankees are -200 favorites over the Orioles, which means you’d have to risk $200 to win $100 on New York. During the regular season there are often favorites as big as -250 or even -300, but those are usually matchups of very good teams versus very bad teams. To get -200 in a matchup of two playoff teams is uncommon and says a lot about the faith people have in CC Sabathia (or the lack of faith in Jason Hammel, maybe). For a -200 bet on the Yankees to be profitable they must win at least 67 percent of the time.

In the later game the Nationals are -130 favorites over the Cardinals, which means you’d have to risk $130 to win $100 on Washington. That’s a more typical playoff line and for that bet to be profitable Washington would have to win at least 57 percent of the time. They’re at home with Gio Gonzalez on the mound, so that seems about right.

Also worth noting: Last time I did one of these “what’s the Las Vegas line?” posts was for the two Wild Card playoff games and both favorites (Rangers at -190 and Braves at -170) lost.

Must-Click Link: Remembering Eddie Grant the first major leaguer to die in combat

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As you get ready for Memorial Day weekend and whatever it entails for you and yours, take some time to read an excellent article from Mike Bates over at The Hardball Times.

The article is about Eddie Grant. You probably never heard of him. He was a journeyman infielder — often a backup — from 1905 through 1915. If you have heard of him, it was likely not for his baseball exploits, however: it was because he was the first active baseball player to die in combat, killed in the Battle of the Argonne Forest in October 1915.

Michael tells us about more than Grant’s death, however. He provides a great overview of his life and career. And notes that Grant didn’t even have to go to war if he didn’t want to. He was 34, had the chance to coach or manage and had a law degree and the potential to make a lot of money following his baseball career. He volunteered, however, for both patriotic and personal reasons. And it cost him his life.

Must-read stuff indeed. Especially this weekend.

The Indians are unveiling a Frank Robinson statue on Sunday

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The Cleveland Indians will unveil a Frank Robinson statue at Progressive Field on Saturday.

Robinson’s tenure in Cleveland was not long, but it was historic. On April 8, 1975, he became the first African-American manager in Major League history. He was a player-manager. One of the last ones, in fact. He spent two years in that role and then a third year — a partial year anyway — as a manager only. Robinson would go on to manage the Giants, Orioles and the Expos/Nationals, compiling a career record of 1065-1176 in 16 seasons. He is now a top MLB executive.

Robinson was, of course, a Hall of Fame player as well, lodging 21 seasons for the Reds, Orioles, Dodgers, Angels and Indians. He won two MVP awards and hit for the Triple Crown in 1966. Overall he hit 586 home runs – 10th all time – and was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1982. For an inner-circle Hall of Famer with that kind of resume he is still, strangely enough, underrated. I guess that happens when your contemporaries are Willie Mays, Hank Aaron and Mickey Mantle.

Anyway, congrats to Frank Robinson for yet another well-deserved honor in a career full of them.