Posts Tagged ‘Baseball’

By W.G. Ramirez

Enough. ENOUGH!

I’ve seen and heard too much whining and crying during the Little League World Series.

Remember – there’s no crying in baseball.

Now if I could just get the Mountain Ridge Little League All-Star team to teach that philosophy to its supporters back here in Las Vegas.

You didn’t think I was talking about the kids, did you?

The kids who shied away from talking smack as they pulverized their opponents in the West Regional in San Bernadino, while remaining humble en route to Williamsport – one of just 16 teams in the world to do so?

The kids who continually talked about taking it one game at a time, and the team aspect, as they opened the Little League World Series with an impressive 3-0 start that saw them outscore their opponents 33-5?

The kids who whenever being interviewed, simply said they hoped they could play good enough to get to the next round?

All week, Las Vegas shined bright in the shadow of Chicago’s remarkable Jackie Robinson West Little League and Philadelphia’s Mo’ne Davis. Our boys representing the Silver State were ambassadors like we’ve never had before. I know Las Vegas Review Journal columnist Ed Graney wrote a story describing Mountain Ridge as Vegas’ second-most successful team behind the UNLV Runnin’ Rebels of the 1990s, and that may be true – based on success.

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Photo courtesy: Ed Graney

But it’s going to be hard to compare a better group of athletes to be labeled ambassadors for our city. For my city.

The Rebels were grown men. These are 12 and 13 year olds who showed the type of dignity and poise in front of a national audience I’m sure UNLV coach Dave Rice would hope his Rebels display. They displayed the type of personalities and grace most parents dream their kids have walking into McDonalds. Okay, at this age, maybe Starbucks.

But you get the point.

It was the type of sportsmanship you’d hope Johnny Manziel may have watched and learned from at some point the past week.

And along with their spirited play, jovial personalities, brilliant smiles and laughter came the overwhelming support from Southern Nevada. In droves. Politicians, business owners, professional athletes like Bryce Harper and Greg Maddux and what seemed like Clark County’s entire population embraced what was taking place in Little Town America, a place with an apt-named motto: “The Will Is In Us.”

Heck, for most of the week, Las Vegas embraced everyone in the most watched youth tournament annually. From Cumberland Little League manager David Belisle, to Mo’ne-mania and yes, even Jackie Robinson Little League West.

Then Mountain Ridge lost. And that’s when you got ugly Las Vegas.

Shame on you.

You took to social media and literally tattered the very fabric of youth athletics – sportsmanship.

In true Southern Nevada-fashion, a loss brought out your fair-weathered ways. Forget for a moment the joke of a TV rule that eliminates the double-elimination factor, that’s a side note to what I saw on the Internet. Comments about kids choking. Remarks about a VOUNTEER coach who sacrificed work hours as a firefighter. And simply a blatant disregard for all the positive things you praised these kids for the previous two weeks, since they were in San Bernadino.

Seriously. Shame on you.

As of 11 a.m. on Sunday, 208 comments on Ed Graney’s story about Mountain Ridge’s loss to Chicago. Now I didn’t go through all of them, but I’d say one of every seven or eight included “Great job Mountain Ridge,” while the rest littered my screen with something not worth the space on my Blog page. Talk about ugly.

People arguing with people about having an opinion, while others questioning the validity of Ed’s points in the aforementioned story about the team ranking No. 2 all time. Focus people. These are 12 and 13 year old kids.

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Photo courtesy: Ed Graney

Yes, ESPN and ABC does a good job to make you think you’re watching Mike Trout and Derek Jeter, and, this year, Jennie Finch. But they’re not. Sheesh, if you can predict five of these kids that played in Williamsport will go on to be professional baseball players, well more power to you. This was their time. This was their spotlight. This was their cup of coffee on their field of dreams.

In one fell swoop, you spilled their coffee.

Don’t get me wrong, there were so many of you who stayed positive throughout the week, and after both losses the past two days. You’re exceptional supporters of these young men, and I applaud you. But when it comes to social media, you just can’t hide ugly.

Now, let’s address the TV issue.

The rule sucks. Point blank. But get over it.

The rule has been in place, and the kids knew it. Coach Ashton Cave knew it. And when Chicago recorded that final double play, you saw tears of anguish, a hurt none of us will ever know because we’ve never been to Williamsport. They have. And they knew what came with participating in this event.

And as much as I agree with everyone’s disdain for the rule – it really doesn’t make sense to not have an ‘if’ game – I have to wonder what would have happened if the roles were reversed. If Las Vegas came through the losers’ bracket, and won the U.S. Championship, I am almost certain that not one person in Southern Nevada would have exclaimed: “This is an outrage! This is double elimination dammit. Chicago should get an ‘if’ game!” No, I believe you all would have said: “That’s the rules!”

It’s one thing to vent and say ‘hey, this rule isn’t fair,’ but Las Vegas, you know how to take ugly to a new level. Is that really the message you want to send to these kids, who epitomized the type of dignity and poise you’d hope they would have on social media? To come up with excuses for a loss? Blaming umpires and TV executives, when you knew going in you had one job to do. From the game I watched, those boys left it on the field. They did their best. And that’s what needs to be said.

One of the quotes in Ed Graney’s story from coach Cave talked of him losing his brother last year, that that is real loss. It put the game in perspective. For the record, a junior-to-be from Arbor View who knows many of the same kids and circles my son knew prior to graduating died over the weekend. Speculation across social media was suicide, but not confirmed. I feel for the pain she must have been going through, but also for her parents. That’s real loss. Last week I wrote about longtime coach Leon Doss and his battle with cancer. I was informed late Saturday night he was admitted to the hospital and his daughter, Hayley, is headed to Las Vegas to prepare for his departure. That’s real loss.

It puts the game in perspective – TV rules and all.

And if you can’t see that, well, shame on you.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I have a team from Chicago to cheer for in the Little League World Series championship game.

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Leon Doss: “I don’t know how long I have to be here, but I have friends that have given me the will to keep fighting.”

By W.G. Ramirez

Considering how long I’ve been in Las Vegas, I thought I’d met everyone there was to meet from the local prep scene since the 1970s.

Sunday I had the pleasure of meeting yet another legend.

I only wish I had more time to get to know him.

Leon Doss has cancer.

And given how fast things have spread, and that it’s attacking his organs and legs like the Seattle Seahawks attacked the Denver Broncos in last year’s Super Bowl, well, yeah…

Ken Henderson's Pizza Bar at Tivoli Village was the site for a fund-raiser for longtime coach and educator Leon Doss.

Ken Henderson’s Pizza Bar at Tivoli Village was the site for a fund-raiser for longtime coach and educator Leon Doss.

Yet while most everyone inside the Pizza Bar at Tivoli Village approached the fragile Clark County School District veteran with care during a five-hour fund-raiser that included a $50 ice-bucket challenge, their looks of concern and somberness quickly turned to smiles when Leon greeted them.

I know my tentativeness was eased when he looked at me, smiled and shook my hand and thanked me for being there.

His smile – though faded slightly in color, assumedly because of treatment for his cancer – was vibrant because of the width it stretched from ear to ear. Here is a man with one of the most feared infirmities known to man, and it was Leon who was making us feel secure in his presence. It was Leon asserting his jovial and loving personality that allowed us to be unbothered by his situation.

“I know it’s going to be a tough fight,” he said. “With all the love and support there’s nothing you can’t beat. I was talking to my wife, and I said ‘you know what, we’re going to fight this to the end.’

“God only has a plan for everybody, so he’s gonna lead me down the path he wants me to go, so I’m gonna fight physically and let nature take its course.”

That sounds like something he’d say; well, at least I think it does.

#DossStrong

Again, this was my first encounter with Leon, a man who reached great heights in his heyday at Western High School. Of course, while he was starring for the Warriors’ football, basketball and baseball programs, I was wreaking havoc at Robert E. Lake Elementary and Kit Carson Sixth Grade Center.

So how would I remember him snagging a state championship in football, being named both first-team all-Southern Conference and all-state for his exploits as a running back and outfielder during his junior and senior seasons, or that he was named to the Bob Lilly all-American team for football and baseball.

I wouldn’t. But several others remembered, and they all had their own stories to tell. Stories that, as they told them, lit up their faces and took them back to Western’s glory days.

#DossStrong t-shirts were sold during Sunday's fund-raiser.

Friends bought and donned #DossStrong t-shirts, sold during Sunday’s fund-raiser.

“When I think of Leon Doss, I think of somebody who was loved across the board by the masses,” said Mike Gomez, who played baseball with Leon at Western. “He was a friend to everybody. It didn’t matter what group, or what social group everybody was, everybody knew Leon. Everybody loved Leon.”

Gomez, who has been a teacher in the district for nearly 30 years, said he’s always been amazed by the lives Leon has influenced, just by his presence, and how he could change someone’s outlook with a word of encouragement.

“Even in his adult life, he’s touched so many people, whether it be coaching, whether it be playing sports, his martial arts instructing, he’s had so many avenues to touch people’s lives, and that he’s just a caring, giving person,” Gomez said.

Greg Wolfram, athletic administrator at Arbor View, remembered his time with Leon, who joined the staff as a teacher and coach when the school opened in 2005.

“Leon is just a personable guy,” Wolfram said. “He’s more than a coach; for people, he’s a friend, a mentor and he’s just there for people who have needed him. The one thing about Leon, he was very loyal to people.”

Ken Henderson, the owner of the Pizza Bar and also a former Western classmate, said there was never a second thought in his head about shutting down his restaurant for five hours so fellow Western-alum Gina Jackson and Dawn Hayden could organize the fund-raiser.

“He’s such a great energy, I was pretty surprised when I heard about it,” Henderson said. “I said whatever day works, let’s just do it. From my understanding, when Gina first did a cash drive, Leon was leveled. He couldn’t believe that people would just out of the blue, get a call, and write a check.”

#DossStrong

Jackson has remained close with the Doss’ since Leon was diagnosed last November. One of the first things she did was buy a book for his wife Faye, on how to handle her role for Leon, and for her ol’ buddy from Western, she gave him a journal. The first entry: a bucket list.

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Brothers Herman Newson and Leon Doss pose for a picture while enjoying Sunday’s fundraiser at the Pizza Bar at Tivoli Village.

“He wanted to have a get together with all the special people who had crossed paths with him before… you know…” she said, and struggled to finish.

Yeah, I know. I couldn’t say it either, as you could tell earlier in this blog.

“Rather than everyone getting together at his funeral, he wanted everyone to get together so he could be there, so he could see everyone and spend time with everyone,” Jackson said.

While we were chatting, one gentleman came up to thank her for everything she was doing for Leon and the Doss family. To which she replied: “We were all raised to treat other people the way we want to be treated.”

It made me smile. It’s very similar to my thought process toward this piece.

Again, I didn’t know Leon. And our paths probably would have never crossed if his daughter, Hayley, and my son would haven’t been a part of Arbor View’s Class of 2014. But there was something about wanting to do this, about spreading some awareness to anyone who may read this about a wonderful family who has endured so much, and still has a long road to travel.

Besides, whenever someone brought up Hayley, a member of Arbor View’s women’s soccer program, including the past two years the Aggies won the state title, you can’t help but think about her smile. It’s as radiating as her father’s, and can brighten a room as well as any 100-watt light bulb. Hayley is now in Washington, getting ready to start her first season for Highline Community College. In fact, the Thunderbirds open their campaign Monday with a scrimmage.

Leon won’t be there.

#DossStrong

Leon didn’t get to see Hayley step on the field for the last few minutes of the state championship game last season. Hayley overcame an injury and saw limited time during the season, but she got to play near the end of the title game, and looked as if she had never been injured. I remember tweeting about it, and even feeling a little melancholy – in a good way – that she could say she participated in her final game for Arbor View.

Sunday, as everyone was able to see Leon, talk to him and extend their well wishes, my heart tugged a bit, the same melancholy way it did back on Nov. 16 for Hayley, but this time not so much in a great way. Maybe that’s why I was tweeting play-by-play from the Pizza Bar, so she could feel as if she were alongside her father.

See, if it weren’t for Leon, his eldest daughter probably wouldn’t be the athlete she is today. It’s as close a bond as I’ve ever seen between parent and child, as the two rely upon one another. He’s her motivation; she’s his hero.

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Hayley Doss, now a freshman at Highline Community College, works in front of a defender during a club-soccer game last year.

“I was a hard worker, but she makes me look like I’m standing still,” Leon Doss said. “She loves to play the sport, she’s always had to fight for what she wanted. She was never the most talented, but she works hard enough to become one of the best.”

Perhaps that’s why when I interviewed Highline coach Thomas Moore he told me had no clue about Leon. Apparently, Hayley arrived on July 17 and has done exactly as she was instructed by the man who will always be her No. 1 coach and mentor. It’s been strictly business for the T-Birds, and not a peep about her ailing father.

“He made her promise that whatever happens, she continues playing strong and doing the best she can on the field and in school,” said her mother, Faye.

Prior to telling me she’s been nothing short of a blessing to the program, spreading positive vibes to everyone on the team, Moore shared with me a personal note as to why it took him an extra few minutes to return my call. My voice mail struck a personal chord with him, as he lost his mother to cancer about a year ago.

“One of the best things anyone ever said to me was ‘you’re not going to be able to predict what’s going to happen,'” Moore recollected, Saturday during a phone interview. “There is no guaranteed way to handle this. It’s going to be one day at a time. This probably is a benefit for (Hayley) because she’s doesn’t have a ton of down time and in my experience, having something to focus on, it allowed me to keep my mind off things.

“She’s performing at a very high level and we’re very demanding; she’s responded well. That’s why I’m very excited with some of the things she’ll be able to do this year. Not only is she a great player, she’s a great kid. I’ve really enjoyed having her up here so far.”

Of course, it wasn’t an easy move. Hayley admitted it was difficult to leave her father.

“It’s been pretty hard not seeing him every day,” she told me Saturday. “I can’t do anything for him, it’s just my mom and sister, and I can’t be there to support him. He’s taught me everything when it comes to sports, so it’s pretty hard on me. Now that season is here, it’s hard not seeing him here for my games. He was one of my first coaches for soccer, he’s been there from the beginning.

“He’s mostly the reason I’m pushing myself to be a good athlete.”

Leon Doss and Hayley Doss pose after her high-school graduation.

Leon Doss and Hayley Doss pose after her high-school graduation, from Arbor View HS, in June.

And that’s how Leon wanted it. He didn’t want his little star to stay home and worry about him. She earned her way to Des Moines, Washington, and he wants her there, doing what she loves.

Said Leon: “My whole goal was for her to fulfill her dream that she’s wanted for a long time. I told her whatever she does, whatever happens, you play or not, just go out there and give the best effort you can. She’s my oldest, but she’s setting the foundation for my youngest.”

#DossStrong

Both Leon and Hayley are to be commended, as they’re living up to the “hashtag” you’ve seen me use as dividers for each part to this touching story. I now know why the t-shirts they were selling said #DossStrong. After talking with Hayley on Saturday, and sitting with Leon and Faye for a bit you’d understand.

The Doss’ have been married for 20 years and have a younger daughter, Laycey, who is 13. And they’re stronger than ever. Their bond can’t be broken, and has been strengthened by an illness that is crippling, and generally weakens a soul.

But Leon was very candid about his remaining time – no matter how long it may be – now that he’s accepted the fact he’s in for the fight of his life. And he told me he refuses to accept anyone say that he is dying. On the contrary, he is living.

“This is something that you never expect in life,” Leon said. “When you have this many people care about you. This is just the greatest feeling ever. I don’t know how long I have to be here, but I have friends that have given me the will to keep fighting. And I’m going to stay strong.”

Yeah, #DossStrong.

Today marks one week of one of the most hectic seven days I’ve ever experienced in 27 years of sports journalism. It also marks the beginning of another one.

But I wouldn’t trade it for anything.

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Bishop Gorman-graduate Shabazz Muhammad and Glenn Robinson III power under the basket for the Timberwolves.

Between providing analytical content for sports-betting websites, covering the NBA and high school summer baseball, I honestly am not sure how I was able to fit gym time in – or be motivated to even go – but I supposed I have my fitness-physique competing son to thank for that.

Thank God for the Major League Baseball All-Star Game, otherwise I’d never get any time off. The day before and two days after the Midsummer Classic are the only days of the calendar year you won’t find anything intriguing to bet on, thus I don’t have to provide analysis for ChrisJordanSports.com. Granted, you can bet on the WNBA, and even Summer League hoops, but it’s not of any interest for the people I deal with.

That’s fine by me, cause then I can enjoy my annual three days off.

That’s no typo – I get three days off a year. No vacations. I work New Year’s Day, Memorial Day, Fourth of July, Labor Day, Thanksgiving and Christmas. Toss in everyone’s birthday we celebrate – you name it. Sure, I’ve taken trips, but I worked every one of ’em.

The day I got married, I was sippin’ Patron and writing sports-betting analysis. Honeymoon, sippin’ wine and writing sports-betting analysis. Trips to New York, Toronto, Ottawa, Los Angeles, Phoenix, San Diego, San Francisco, Jamaica… I was sippin’ something and writing sports betting analysis.

Could be a good reason I’m separated, but that’s a whole other blog.

But this past week was pretty damn hectic, given the nature and urgency of the subjects I was covering.

Last Wednesday I was summoned to the LeBron James Skills Academy, with hopes Cleveland’s reborn hero would show up for a moment or two. He did. Hopping around four different courts to play alongside some of the top high school basketball players in the nation. On Thursday, raced out to Clark High School to interview New York Knicks president Phil Jackson, as he finally spoke on the Carmelo Anthony situation. At the time, ‘Melo was unsigned.

Backtrack for a moment with me, to Monday, when I took a one-day assignment to cover the Cavaliers for the Cleveland Plain-Dealer and Cleveland.com. I was to cover the showdown between last month’s top two picks in the NBA Draft: Cleveland’s No. 1 Andrew Wiggins and Milwaukee’s No. 2 Jabari Parker. The game was on Friday.

Friday morning, the LeBron bomb dropped. That’s when thing intensified.

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Cleveland Cavaliers No. 1 draft pick Andrew Wiggins works on his spot-up drills during a practice session at Desert Oasis High School.

Getting reaction quotes, and trying to interview the one person every member of the media wanted to interview was wild. Cavaliers coach David Blatt went from first-year coach with the No. 1 pick (Wiggins), to LeBron’s next coach. Need I go on? I was retained for the next three days, covering the Cavaliers, and also had to do a follow-up with Jackson, for The Associated Press, once Anthony agreed to terms with the Knicks. I also contacted Glenn Robinson III’s hometown paper and agreed to a deal for a feature story on him, now that he was with the Minnesota Timberwolves.

Monday rolled around and I was making phone calls and messaging with parents for results from the final Connie Mack games of the regular season, so I could write my preview for the Las Vegas Review Journal, which ran in Tuesday’s paper and online at NevadaPreps.com

Here we are seven days later, and I’m gearing up for another run, chock full of diversity: Connie Mack State Tournament through Saturday, the NBA Summer League is still going through Monday, the sports-betting analysis starts back up on Friday and when it’s all said and done, I will get ready to cover Team USA’s basketball team, as it preps for the FIBA Basketball World Cup.

So even over my prized three days off from the sports-betting gig I’ve done for 14 years, you better believe I’m doing something – sippin’ on something, writing about sports.

– W.G. Ramirez

Cincinnati Reds starter Homer Bailey joined several lists of exclusive clubs with last night’s no-hitter, including those active with multiple no-no’s and those who have thrown MLB’s back-to-back silencers.

But the one that stood out for me was that of no-hitting a defending World Series champion.

Dating back to April 24, 1917 – the first time it happened, when Yankees southpaw George Mogridge no-hit the Boston Red Sox – the feat has happened only 10 times.

Oddly enough, as hard as it’s been to accomplish, Bailey made it two straight years the defending champ was no-hit, as Johan Santana did it to the St. Louis Cardinals on June 12 last season.

Prior to Santana, the previous World Series champ to go down via no-hitter was in 1990, when Texas’ Nolan Ryan shut down the Oakland Athletics.

The A’s, coincidentally, have been no-hit three times when they’ve been defending champs, on July 30, 1973, by Texas’ Jim Bibby, the following season by Cleveland’s Dick Bosman, on July 19, 1974.

The most notorious no-hitter of a defending World Series champ has to be the one Don Larsen threw for the New York Yankees on Oct. 8, 1956, against the Brooklyn Dodgers in Game 5 of the 1956 World Series. The right-hander pitched the sixth perfect game in MLB history. It is currently the only perfect game in World Series history and is one of only two no hitters in MLB postseason history.

The following is the list of no-hitters over defending World Series champs:

  • April 24, 1917 … George Mogridge (Yankees) vs. Red Sox
  • August 30, 1941 … Lon Warneke (Cardinals) vs. Reds
  • August 25, 1952 … Virgil Trucks (Tigers) vs. Yankees
  • October 8, 1956 … Don Larsen (Yankees) vs. Dodgers
  • September 17, 1968 … Gaylord Perry (Giants) vs. Cardinals
  • July 30, 1973 … Jim Bibby (Rangers) vs. Athletics
  • July 19, 1974 … Dick Bosman (Indians) vs. Athletics
  • June 11, 1990 … Nolan Ryan (Rangers) vs. Athletics
  • June 1, 2012 … Johan Santana (Mets) vs. Cardinals
  • July 3, 2013 … Homer Bailey (Reds) vs. Giants

BETTING BASEBALL – Every year, during the first month of the season, my Customer Service Department is inundated with questions about BETTING BASEBALL. I can tell you personally – and have been the past decade – it is one of the best ways to make money, and one of the simplest forms of handicapping.

I am actually shocked there aren’t more baseball bettors out there. For instance, of the $3.17 billion wagered on sports in Nevada in 2011, a mere 18 percent was on baseball, compared to the 42 percent placed on football. And yet in baseball there is so much more value, epecially knowing you’re dealing with day-to-day situations, a pitcher vs. batter scenario, travel schedules, pitching rotations and some of the most valuable momentum you could ask for in any sport.

Perhaps it’s the popularity – or lack thereof – since so many people would rather wager on a fast-paced game, such as football and basketball. But guys, money is money, and just like in the stock market, you’re either investing long-term mutual, or on the aggressive risk play. The same applies here.

Now, with the regular season officially underway, let’s go over some important points you’ll need to consider, or phrases you’ll hear throughout the season, and defined here:

LISTING PITCHERS – I take into account the pitchers in every game in some way shape or form, and generally surround my handicapping around the starters. There are going to be times – not every – I will tell you to list the pitchers in a baseball game, which basically means you’re making a wager on a game and stating specified hurlers in the event.

If Cliff Lee is facing Justin Verlander, I might tell you to list Lee and Verlander, which means both must start in order for you to have action on the game. If one, or both pitchers don’t start, you have no action and your money will be returned. You can also play a team and list its pitcher, or only choose to list the pitcher your team is opposing.

Bottom line, when listing one or both pitchers, whomever is on your ticket must start the game (throw one pitch), in order for you ticket to be valid.

You can also make an ACTION bet, which means regardless of the pitchers who start or play, you’ll have action on the team you’re betting on.

MONEY LINE – Instead of a point spread, we have the Money Line; and this is what you’ll be playing daily – UNLESS IT’S NOTED to play the Run Line. Money Lines are expressed in terms of a dollar. If we’re making a play on the favorite, we’ll be laying more than a dollar in order to win a dollar – the same we lay $1.10 to win a $1 in football and basketball. If we’re playing an underdog, we’re investing one dollar to win a dollar plus the juice. For instance, if a favorite is -1.35, we’ll lay $1.35 to win $1. If we’re betting the underdog in that game, we’d likely be catching +1.25; so we’d lay $1 to win $1.25. Most bettors might not realize over the course of an entire baseball season, the house edge – the vigorish, or juice – is only about 35 percent of what it is betting on sports such as football and basketball.

Why? Because your investment is on which team will win. You’re dealing with that pitcher, you’re dealing with a lineup and you’re counting on a skipper that will do anything to manage his team to a win. And by playing these prices over the course of a season, you have such a bigger advantage. Think about it, you have the opportunity to invest in any number of 2,430 games. In pro football you’re offered just 256 regular-season games.

Now, this is very important, as we must discuss Sports Books. I will never tell you where to play, and don’t offer any recommendations on any, but I will tell you this is the most important time of the season to find a quality one, or use multiple ones to shop the prices effectively, as we’re looking for ones offering “Dime Lines.” Here in Vegas, I can get a nickel line at times, but that’s irrelevant.

Notice my example above – a favorite laying $1.35 and the comeback at $1.25. There are some books that will offer a .20-cent line, and you’d only be getting $1.15 for that underdog. You lose value by not knowing these things, so take in consideration your book when signing up. Understandably, at most books, as the price reaches $1.80 or $2.00 with favorites, the come-back price is now a 20-cent line and that can’t be avoided.

RUN LINE – Now, a run line play will be used throughout the week and here is where a “point spread” comes in. If the Tigers are a big favorite with an ace laying $2.10 to No. 4 guy in the rotation, I would be inclined to laying 1-1/2 runs, and reduce the price to +1.05. Quite a difference, right?

The catch is, my team must win by two or more runs. Rarely would we play an underdog +1-1/2, so we won’t get much into that, but the thought process remains the same, as we’d be getting a run and a half, lose by one and still win our bet. There are have been sharps and handicappers known to do this, thinking a pitching duel will end up in a one-run game, but it is not something I am a fan of.

When making a Run Line wager, it will always be based on the pitchers listed at the time the wager is made. If one, or both, of the listed pitchers do not start, there is no action and your money will be returned.

TOTALS – Baseball totals are the same across the board, just as in any sport, as there is a number listed for the game itself, and it applies to the number of runs both teams score in the game. This includes extra innings, when applicable.

Both pitchers are automatically listed at the time a total-bet is made and both must start for a total wager to have action. If one, or both, of the listed pitchers do not start, there is no action and your money will be returned. I will have action on totals, not a lot, but more often in baseball than in any other sport will I find value in MLB totals.

Many bettors will take into consideration the umpires in handicapping baseball, particularly the totals. I’m not that big on it, though at times I will refer to the home-plate assignment to solidify a big play.

SYSTEMS – No handicapper might like admit it, but when it comes to baseball, there are some age-old betting systems the late-great Mike Lee used to follow religiously. I love three of them in particular, none of which I’m ready to reveal though, as I work them into my daily lineups quite often.

The key to these systems, is they’re profitable from the start of each season, and basically to the end of the campaign. It’s not something you can jump in and out of, as there could be losing streaks with them. Fact is, there’s always losing streaks in sports betting, but you cannot lose focus on the task at hand, and must play accordingly, following the rules of your money management, the sport you’re playing and the system(s) you’re following.

This is the main reason I always insist on playing with me for one of two packages – one that’ll take you through the All-Star Break, or one that’ll get you through the World Series.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Good luck this season, and remember, it’s a very long campaign that can be grueling at times. The ups, the downs, the highs, the lows … it’s an investment, not a hunt-and-peck kind of sport you want to jump in and out of.

The prices give us an advantage at times, and that’s where we make our mark.

I follow strict money management guidelines in baseball, so if you’re on board long-term, stick by everything I tell you and follow the ratings.

See ya at the ball field, and don’t forget your Peanuts and Cracker Jacks, I don’t care if we ever get back!