Justin Verlander and the Tigers are -180 favorites against the Yankees tonight, which means someone betting on Detroit would have to risk $180 to win $100 and for that bet to be profitable the Tigers would have to win 65 percent of the time.
That got me thinking about the last time the Yankees were such heavy underdogs, so I put out the bat-signal for my favorite gambling-related tweeter, Jacob Wheatley-Schaller from Vegas Watch, and he came through with the info.
There were a few times this season when the Yankees were fairly close to -180 underdogs, including a pair of matchups against Verlander and the Tigers, but they haven’t been -180 or higher underdogs this whole year.
So when was the last time the Yankees were bigger than -180 underdogs?
The final game of the 2011 season, against David Price and the Rays, when the Yankees had the division title wrapped up and started rookie Dellin Betances in one of those “Johnny Wholestaff” games. Tampa Bay was a -220 favorite needing a win to get into the playoffs, 11 different pitchers appeared in the game for New York, and the Rays won 8-7 in 12 innings.
Also known as “The Dan Johnson Game.”
Obviously tonight is basically the opposite circumstances, but it does show just how rare it is for the Yankees to be huge underdogs even for a single game.
1B/DH Edwin Encarnacion signed a three-year, $60 million contract with the Indians early last month. The 34-year-old had spent the last seven and a half seasons with the Blue Jays, but his future elsewhere appeared to be written on the wall when the Jays signed Kendrys Morales in November to essentially occupy Encarnacion’s role.
Encarnacion spoke about testing free agency for the first time in his career and the situation that led to him leaving Toronto for Cleveland. Via Jorge L. Ortiz of USA TODAY:
“Toronto was always my first option, but I had never been a free agent, and anybody who gets to free agency wants to find out what’s out there,’’ he said. “I think they got too hasty in making their decision, but now I’m with Cleveland and I’m happy to be here.’’
Encarnacion last season hit .263/.357/.529 with 42 home runs and an AL-best 127 RBI. He’s now on the team that defeated his Blue Jays in the ALCS to advance to the World Series. Encarnacion effectively replaces Mike Napoli, who returned to the Rangers.
I’m on record saying that Sammy Sosa has been rather hosed by baseball history.
The guy did amazing things. Unheard-of things. He was truly astounding at this peak and was incredibly important to both his franchise and Major League Baseball as a whole. His repayment: he’s a pariah. His club won’t claim him and his greatness, by any measure, has not just been overlooked but denied by most who even bother to consider him.
Yes, he had PED associations, but they were extraordinarily vague ones. He’s in the same boat as David Ortiz as far as documented PED evidence against him, but Ortiz will be a first ballot Hall of Famer while Sosa barely clings to the ballot. He hit homers at the same cartoonish rate as Mark McGwire, but while Big Mac has been embraced by baseball and has coached for years, Sosa can’t get into Wrigley Field unless he buys a ticket and even then the Cubs might try to hustle him out of sight. The man has been treated poorly by any measure.
Yet, it’s still possible to overstate the case. Like Sosa did in this interview with Chuck Wasserstrom:
It’s like Jesus Christ when he came to Jerusalem,” Sosa told chuckbloggerstrom.com. “Everybody thought Jesus Christ was a witch (laughing) — and he was our savior. So if they talk (bleep) about Jesus Christ, what about me? Are you kidding me?”
At least he was basically joking about it. Still, it’s a totally unfair and almost offensive comparison.
I mean, anyone who watched Sosa’s career knows that he had trouble laying off breaking stuff low and away. In contrast . . .