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


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.

MLB games were six minutes shorter this year

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According to STATS, INC., the average game in 2015 was 2 hours, 56 minutes. That’s six minutes faster than games in 2014.

The gains came in the first half, when games averaged 2:53. Second half games averaged three hours even. One can probably thank the expanded rosters in September for that, as games then see many more pitching changes. Of course, it’s likely that second half games were faster in 2015 than 2014 as well given the rules changes.

Those changes: agreement to enforce the rule requiring a hitter to keep at least one foot in the batter’s box and the installation of clocks timing pitching changes and between-inning breaks in ever ballpark.

It remains to be seen if MLB stays satisfied with that modest improvement or if chooses to go the way Triple-A and Double-A leagues did. They installed 20-second pitch clocks and started penalizing violators with balls and strikes. Triple-A’s two leagues, the International and Pacific Leagues, saw game-time decreases by 13 and 16 minutes, respectively.

Billy Beane promoted to VP, David Forst named A’s general manager

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I’m so old I remember when general managers used to run baseball operations departments. Now they’re basically assistants.

The latest example: the Oakland Athletics have promoted Billy Beane to vice president of baseball operations and have named David Forst general manager. Forst has been with the A’s for 16 years and has been Beane’s assistant for 12 years, so it’s not exactly a situation in which Forst will be making the final calls. The official move came today, though the move has been in the works for some time, it seems.

Someone with a lot of good front office access is going to write a good story this winter about the title inflation going on in Major League Baseball over the past year. And it’s gonna be great when one of his or her sources breaks the pattern of saying “well, baseball transactions are so much more complex these days . . . ” and admits “hey, if Theo gets a fancy title and La Russa gets a fancy title I WANT A FANCY TITLE TOO.”

Not that it’s much of a secret as it is.