MLB players and owners converted their ninth-inning chance to salvage a full 162-game season.
With the bases loaded and the season getting way on Thursday, they summoned the bullpen and notched a save.
The agreement allows a full 162-game season to start April 7. That’s one week beyond the original March 31 opening, but doubleheaders will make up the total.
The second-longest lockout in MLB history, 99 days, ended as abruptly as it should have during off-season negotiations.
New Jersey bettors have the compelling national pastime awaiting them on the other side of March Madness and they can start making bets now that the season has clarity.
Here are 5 takeaways on the situation for bettors and the industry. The intense betting interest in the Philadelphia Phillies, New York Mets and New York Yankees magnify these developments.
The books are relieved
Mere hours before the deal was announced, Johnny Avello, the director of race and sportsbook operations for DraftKings, told PlayNJ about the problems the lockout was causing his company.
“It affects us because the baseball futures and other things are not getting bet as heavily as they normally would,” Avello said then.
“We can’t put up the regular-season wins, which is one of the bigger betting propositions we have for baseball. That over-under for win totals of every major-league team is a big write.
“We do have a lot of content up there, regarding strikeout leaders, home-run leaders, etc. We can go that way, (as opposed to specific over-under for individual totals) but there is still a lot more we would like to offer.
“Baseball is great for us. It is something solid, every day, for months at a time.”
Reached again moments after the deal, Avello acknowledged those bets would be going up soon.
“This is good for all of us,” he said.
New DH rule becomes a treat for Phillies, Mets and Yankees bettors
The National League will adopt the designated hitter this year, making all of baseball part of this system. The American League introduced the DH 49 years ago.
This figures to play a role in a salivating race for the major-league-leading strikeout title between Gerrit Cole of the Yankees, Jacob deGrom and newly-acquired Max Scherzer of the Mets and Cy Young-award runner-up Zack Wheeler of the Phillies.
They are four of the best in baseball.
Cole opened as the +450 favorite at Draft Kings, with deGrom next at +500. Scherzer opened at +700 and Wheeler, who had the most strikeouts in this group last year, was +1200.
Wheeler – who pitched an MLB-most 213 1/3 innings, also paced the National League with 247 strikeouts. He was the first Phillies pitcher to claim the strikeout crown since Curt Schilling in back-to-back seasons, 1997-98.
Aaron Nola of the Phillies, who can string big strikeout totals together at times, opened at 1300.
Not only does the agreement rekindle this competition, but it tossed in a twist.
What does the DH do to this quartet?
They are less likely to be pinch-hit for in the seventh inning of a tie game, or one in which they trail by a run. Scherzer, deGrom and Wheeler may be able to squeeze a few more innings of work in for the year.
That could mean a significant edge to one of them in a close race.
Expect the DH to also add about half a run to individual National League game totals. It will be reflected in the props.
Playoffs. Did someone say playoffs?
The Phillies opened at +125 to make the post-season at DraftKings. The agreement expanded the playoffs to 12 teams (six in each league) meaning that one more team in each league will make the cut.
The one-game playoff will be out, replaced by a best-of-three to start the post-season.
The DH and the expanded playoff format look like a concession each side gave the other. More post-season games benefit the owners and the bettors. The DH adds several new jobs for players.
Some bettors go against the pack with the Mets
A spicy debate returns among New York-New Jersey baseball fans, now enabled by a full season.
Will the Mets under-achieve on their win total, again? Will the Phillies help them hit the “under”?
A shorter season may have discouraged NJ sports bettors from making this wager because the Mets often fade at the end of the year.
But the Mets are always overbet, riding the image of a “public” team that garners wagering juice by virtue of playing in a big market.
Yes, they had an abundance of injuries and bad luck. But they have also suffered four losing seasons out of the past five.
What’s overlooked? The pressure of the New York spotlight, making some high-priced free agents underperform. That spells major opportunities for bettors who like to wager into that variable.
Symbolic irony marks this agreement.
It provides major good news for the betting industry exactly two years after the pandemic hit.
Rather than watching college basketball players leave the court, as they did on March 11, 2020, bettors will see baseball players preparing to travel to spring training.
This prompts a look back on the resilience of the industry.
The pandemic halted major sports for a considerable time but, in retrospect, the books have diversified.
Think of the cruel timing the industry faced. PASPA had been overturned less than two years when Covid-19 hit. An industry just getting its legs was blindsided by a major problem.
And they had to scramble, from posting odds on Russian table tennis back in March of 2020 to introducing Korean baseball in April.
But they stayed in the game until it turned.
Horse racing, NASCAR and the UFC were the first betting sports to return, in April and May. Baseball action meant the KBO until MLB started at the end of July.
Finally, the NFL put together two full seasons, providing needed stability.
It’s a different ballgame now. Books have spread dynamically across the United States, and are prepared to weather tough times with action from several sports.
“There is plenty of soccer, you have some boxing and MMA,” Avello noted. “And golf has become huge. It’s a big player almost every week.”
Golf has indeed settled behind pro football, college football, the NBA and college hoops into a fertile gambling niche. It’s a powerhouse entity, running nearly every Thursday-Sunday.
Books needed to expand their identity during the pandemic. And they are much better for it.