Houston Astros, Los Angeles Dodgers surefire World Series bets

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Time is of the essence to get money down if one believes either the Houston Astros or the Los Angeles Dodgers are surefire World Series bets.

With baseball starting up again now that the all-star break is over the Dodgers are +350 favorites on the 2017 World Series odds followed by the Astros at +425, according to sportsbooks monitored by OddsShark.com.

A hot streak where the NL West-leading Dodgers won 26 out of 30 games to take a healthy lead in an otherwise strong division has taken away a lot of their betting value, as they were at +800 one month ago. Similarly, the Astros, who have 10 more wins than anyone else in the American League, will likely see their price come down soon enough once they shore up their pitching staff at the July 31 (non-waiver) trade deadline.

It is true that only five of the 27 teams to finish with the top regular-season record during the wild-card era (since 1995) have gone on to win the World Series, including the 2016 Chicago Cubs. However, baseball might as well be called Bullpen in October, and on top of having Cy Young candidate Clayton Kershaw and a strong offense with the likes of Corey Seager and Cody Bellinger, the Dodgers have yet to lose a game this year when leading after five innings.

The Astros, with George Springer setting the table, lead the AL in runs, home runs and on-base percentage. Their question mark, even while 30-plus games above .500, is what the make-up of the pitching staff will be once Dallas Keuchel, a one-time Cy Young Award winner, and Collin McHugh rejoin the starting rotation. Houston likely will have to trade for another starter but it’s a thin trade market.

The top of the board also includes the Boston Red Sox (+600), Washington Nationals (+700), Chicago Cubs (+800) and Cleveland Indians (+800). Boston certainly has the pieces to make a run in October even if big-name starters such as Rick Porcello and David Price have higher-than-acceptable earned-run averages. Washington’s 5.20 bullpen ERA sets off red flags like home run fireworks.

Provided that their offense (seventh in the AL) doesn’t go completely stone-cold, Cleveland is a darkhorse due to their pitching staff, which has the lowest overall ERA in the league and lowest bullpen ERA in the majors thanks in large part to Andrew Miller. As for the defending World Series champion Cubs, at some point a team is what it is and the Northsiders’ starting pitching has seemingly regressed too much in one season for them to have a shot.

Farther down the board at sports betting sites, the Arizona Diamondbacks (+1600) are a diamond in the rough. The Diamondbacks have the third-best record in baseball and strong pitching on both ends, but their price is high because the reality is that they will likely have to survive a one-game wild card series in the playoffs since they play in the same division as the mighty Dodgers.

Of course, there’s also the scenario of having to beat the Dodgers only three times in the NLDS instead of four times in the NLCS.

 

A’s players, staff support coach after gesture, no penalty

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OAKLAND, Calif. — Major League Baseball has been in touch with the Oakland Athletics about their bench coach making a gesture that appeared to be a Nazi salute following a win over the Texas Rangers.

No discipline has been announced against coach Ryan Christenson, who has apologized for the gesture.

“Ryan Christenson is fully supported by everybody in our clubhouse and they know who he is. So do I. Obviously it didn’t look great but that was not his intent at all. I know that for a fact,” manager Bob Melvin said Friday before a game against Houston.

“He’s just not that guy. I’d say he’s progressive, very progressive as a person. Everybody feels bad for him right now `cause they know who he is,” Melvin added.

A short team meeting was all that the A’s needed because Christenson had full support, Melvin said.

Christenson apologized late Thursday for raising his arm during the postgame celebration. He made the gesture while greeting closer Liam Hendriks following a 6-4 win over the Rangers.

Hendriks immediately pushed Christenson’s arm down. Cameras showed Christenson laughing and briefly raising his arm a second time.

Christenson faced criticism after video of the gesture circulated on social media.

“I made a mistake and will not deny it,” Christenson said in a statement issued through the team. “Today in the dugout I greeted players with a gesture that was offensive. In the world today of COVID, I adapted our elbow bump, which we do after wins, to create some distance with the players. My gesture unintentionally resulted in a racist and horrible salute that I do not believe in. What I did is unacceptable and I deeply apologize.”

The A’s called the gesture “offensive” and apologized for it.

“We do not support or condone this gesture or the racist sentiment behind it,” the team said in a statement. “This is incredibly offensive, especially in these times when we as a club and so many others are working to expose and address racial inequities in our country. We are deeply sorry that this happened on our playing field.”

The 46-year-old Christenson played six years in the majors from 1998-2003. He later spent several years coaching in the minors before becoming bench coach for the A’s in 2018.