Handicapping Baseball: External Variables
by Wilson of Predictem.com

OK, youve made your way through the heavy traffic of the casino and now you find yourself looking up at the board in the sports book. The problem, you dont know what team to bet on!

You have already researched both teams statistics and they are surprisingly similar. What do you do when both teams are evenly matched? Well, if both teams have solid pitching, defense, and speed I would suggest looking at other influences which are outside of the players and managers control.

Hey, just look at how Sam Ace Rothstein used to call games. Ace, a fictional character played by Robert De Niro, in the movie Casino would know if a certain player was fighting with his girlfriend the day of a game, or if a player had the stomach flu. He had guys working for him who would specifically shadow certain players to learn of any weaknesses that may affect their game. Lets look at some other potential game changing situations.


Weather: The weather can be a major factor on certain teams, especially teams from warmer climates who must battle the cool temps in other less desirable cities. Cold weather can slow a hot pitcher down and keep the ball from dancing around so much. But always check the forecast before a game as wind, rain, and extreme heat can all create havoc for some teams.

Doesnt the home team usually have the advantage? Yes, most of the time the home teams do have the advantage. But professional sports are definitely not comparable to a high stakes high school or college match-up when the home team fans are almost like a bonus player (save for the 12th man in Seattle). Most professional athletes have no problem playing through all of the noise and antics as visitors to an often hostile environment. Mental toughness is the key for all successful athletes. But after saying all of that, the home team still has the advantage! Players tend to play up to their fans.

What about ballpark backgrounds? Oh yes, in todays ballparks the atmosphere is incredible. There are swimming pools, Vegas-like water fountains, miniature forests with elaborate water falls, and expensive field-side restaurants. Studies show that most of these backgrounds have had an effect on the batters vision and ability to completely focus on the ball coming from the pitchers hand. I know, pretty sophisticated stuff, but its true! The human eye naturally notices movement and color arrangements. Ballpark designers know just what type of color scheme to use in order to distract the batter enough at least for the first couple times at bat. Again, the background of a ballpark can alter a hitters ability until he makes the adjustment or simply gets used to it, but it ultimately has an advantage for the home team who is used to the setting.

What about travel time? I know my high school baseball teams who travel longer than an hour or so usually have trouble starting a game. As a coach its hard to watch because you know your team is better than what they are showing. Its not as bad in professional ball but make sure you know when the team arrived and how they arrived. If you are betting on a team who had a five hour delay in Denver and just arrived in New York two hours before game time you may be in for a slow start and a losing bet!

Remember, A hotdog at the ball game is better than a steak at the Ritz. ~ Humphrey Bogart.

Luck to ya.