Saturday, July 31, 2021

Athletes Unlimited To Release NFTs For Its Softball And Lacrosse Seasons

Cat Osterman / Jade Hewitt 


Athletes Unlimited announced they will be partnering with GigLabs to produce exclusive NFTs for both its women's lacrosse and softball leagues this season. The NFTs will only be available for those who attend the matches and games in-person. 

The NFTs debuted during the first week of Athletes Unlimited's lacrosse season, with a different one being released during the subsequent weeks of the season. The set will expand during softball season which begins August 28th, 2021 in Chicago. 

Multiple 2020 Tokyo Olympians will be playing in Athletes Unlimited's softball league, including Team USA silver medalists Cat Osterman, Amanda Chidister, Kelsey Stewart and Janie Reed, as well as Team Canada bronze medalists Victoria Hayward and Sara Groenwegen. 

Monday, July 26, 2021

Understanding The Odds Of a Baseball Game


Betting can get you an impressive return on investment - though there’s one caveat. Sure, you can bet on any sport at random and have a chance of winning some sweet cash, but you’re more likely to get a profit if you know the odds for that particular game.

Today, we’re doing a deep dive into baseball odds. What do you need to know, and how can you use betting odds to help you to make the best possible betting decisions? That’s what we’re here to explain today. Keep on reading for more information.

Why Is It Important to Understand the Odds of a Baseball Game?

It’s pretty simple. When you know how something works, you are more likely to be successful with it. The same goes for betting. It’s entirely possible to make a bet on a random baseball game, and have a slim chance of winning. When your hard earned cash is on the line though, do you really want to take a chance on just guessing? No! That’s where betting odds come in.

Betting odds are determined based on a few different variables, and they essentially give you some indiciation about how risky your bet is. It helps you to make a decision that will give you the best return on investment. It helps you to figure out whether you want to take a gamble or play it safe. Ultimately though, until we learn how to see into the future with accuracy, there’s no concrete way of determining whether a team can definitely win. We can just make some sort of prediction based on the information at hand.

Betting Odds Explained

So, how do baseball betting odds work? It’s a little complicated, but let’s break it down.

Moneyline

The most common way that betting is done for the MLB is with money line odds. In other parts of the world, these are known as American odds.

Theoretically, it’s sort of similar to percentages. Let’s say that someone tells you that there’s a 75% chance that it may rain tomorrow. That could also be written as -300 that it may rain. It’s the same thing with baseball, to some degree.

We have a baseball game coming up. The New York Yankees - 160 vs the Houston Astros +140. Wait, what do those numbers mean? 

Well, as you can see, the Astros are +140. That little plus symbol essentially tells you that they aren’t favored to win. They’re basically the underdogs. The Yankees, on the other hand, are favored to win. If you bet on Houston, then you’re going to get $140 in profit for each $100 that you bet. Pretty neat, huh? Of course, you don’t have to bet 100 - this is just a little easier to understand since the $100 is used as an easy reference point.

If you bet on the Yankees, on the other hand, then you have to bet $160 for each $100 that you are looking to win. So if you want to make a slightly smaller bet, then you’d need to bet $16 for every $10 profit that you want to make. Because they are more likely to win, you’re not going to get as much money. Boo!

Other Kinds of Bets

You can vote on which team you want to win, but you can also bet on other parts of the game. They will usually all be expressed in moneyline odds.

For instance, you can bet on totals. These are the run amounts that are expected for the game. You can also bet on run lines. For instance, with this kind of bet an underdog team may have +1.5 odds, meaning that if they lose the game by just one run you could still potentially have a winning bet. If the odds for a team are -1.5 then the team in question would need to win by two runs if you wanted to have a successful bet. 

You can also bet on alternate run lines which are just a level up from this. Finally you have prop bets, and these are bets that you can make on something specific happening on a game. You may wish to bet on how many strikeouts a certain player may have, for instance. It’s worth looking into all of these bets, but if you’re just getting started it can help to stick to the basic moneyline bets for which team you think will win.

Baseball betting odds are complicated, but they don’t need to be rocket science! Now that you know all about baseball betting odds, you can make an informed decision about where you want your money to go!

Friday, July 9, 2021

Charlie Gorin, University Of Texas Star And Milwaukee Braves Pitcher, Dies At 93

Charlie Gorin, former Milwaukee Braves pitcher from 1954-55, died February 21, 2021 at 93.

Coming out of the University of Texas, Charlie Gorin had a winner’s pedigree. Pitching under the legendary Bibb Falk's guiding eye, the left-hander propelled the Longhorns to consecutive College World Series titles in 1949 and 1950. Gorin continued that streak early in his minor league career; however, he could not translate that success to the major league level.

Gorin, who pitched seven games for the Milwaukee Braves from 1954-55, died February 21, 2021. He was 93.

The Waco, Texas, native enlisted in the Navy during World War II out of high school, delaying the start of his baseball career. After his discharge he enrolled at Texas, using the GI Bill at the urging of one of his Naval mates. He made good with Falk at a spring tryout, and a local legend was born.

The Boston Braves took notice of Gorin after his second CWS championship in 1950 and signed him to a minor league contract at Omaha on the spot. After a short stint at Triple-A Milwaukee, Gorin settled in with their Double-A club in Atlanta and led them to the playoffs with a 7-1 record.

Gorin entered the 1951 season with a fresh start at Milwaukee that eventually led to two championships in the span of a year. The 1951 Milwaukee club ran away with the pennant, showing how Major League Baseball organizations could benefit from having an integrated team. Former Negro Leaguers Bus Clarkson and George Crowe led the offensive charge with respective .343 and .339 batting averages, while starters Ernie Johnson, Bert Thiel, Virgil Jester, Murray Wall and Gorin all posted double-digit victory totals. They then toppled the International League’s Montreal Royals to win the 1951 Junior World Series.

Most pitchers would be exhausted after a long playoff season, but the lure of a paid winter to pitch in Puerto Rico was too much for Gorin to pass up. At the recommendation of teammate Luis Olmo, Gorin headed to winter ball.

“That was the only way to make money,” Gorin said during a 2008 phone interview. “There wasn't big money like now. I was married with two kids; that's how I saved money. They paid our way down with the wife and kids, and they paid room and board. Puerto Rico was a good place to play.”

After faltering early with Mayag├╝ez, Gorin latched on with San Juan after the team owner came to the airport to stop him from going back home. He was determined to make Mayag├╝ez realize its mistake.

Gorin reeled off 12 wins, leading San Juan to the league championship. He pitched two complete-game victories in the playoffs, punching their ticket to the 1952 Caribbean Series. Unfortunately, for Gorin, he couldn’t enjoy the fruit of his labors. A full year of pitching finally caught up with him, his body giving out after epic playoff run. Instead of representing Puerto Rico in the Caribbean Series, he was sent home to recover.

“I had a chance to play in the Caribbean Series in 1952, but I had a muscle spasm in my back, and I just couldn't make the pitch,” he said. “They sent me home. I went to the doctor here. I had a chance to rest, and finally I worked out of it.”

 

Fresh off his incredible 1951 campaign, Gorin looked forward to competing for a spot on the Boston Braves. With the Korean War raging on, Uncle Sam had other plans for him that did not include the major leagues.

“I was called back to active duty in the Navy for Korea,” he said. “I went to Pensacola, because I had a degree in physical education. I was an instructor in the Naval school for gymnastics, physical education, swimming, and water survival. I had to stay two years.”

Gorin, like many of his contemporaries including Willie Mays, Don Newcombe and Ted Williams, lost prime years of his major league career to the Korean War. Unlike the aforementioned trio, Gorin could not regain the momentum he had going into his service upon his return to the pros.

The Braves honored his contract, keeping him on the roster for the 1954 and 1955 seasons. He pitched sparingly over the two years, making seven relief appearances for a 0-1 record with a 3.60 ERA.

Gorin continued to play in the minor leagues through 1962, settling into Austin towards the end of his career so he could make the move into teaching and coaching. Luckily, he found an opportunity with his former high school coach who was flexible enough to let him off to play professional baseball.

“In 1959, I was in Austin, and they wanted to send me to Atlanta,” he said. “I said, ‘Keep me in Austin, that's my hometown, they have a AA team and I could make the transition between baseball and teaching school.’ My high school coach was the athletic director here, so when I got here, he got me on as a coach and teacher. Then he let me off to go play ball. One year I went to Mobile, then back to Austin. I was married with two kids, and I needed the extra money. We made more than teachers, that's for sure.”

He wrapped up his baseball career in 1962 and went full-time into education. He coached football and baseball for over 20 years and became an assistant principal at John Reagan High School in Austin. He retired in 1990 and enjoyed playing golf with his family and friends.

Speaking with Gorin in 2008, he was proud of his baseball career; however, he was quick to note the changes he observed over the 60 years since he started.

“Things have changed,” he said. “The young players don't know how nice they have it. … It's a different game, if the ball hits the ground, it gets put out of the game. You wanted that ball that was hit on the ground, so it was rough, and you could do something with it.”


Tuesday, June 15, 2021

Farwell Mudcat Grant: 1935-2021


Jim "Mudcat" Grant was determined to spread the Black Aces legacy for as long as he could, similar to how Buck O'Neil preached the gospel of the Negro Leagues well into his 90s. Walking with the aid of a cane, Grant traveled across the country to baseball events as a septuagenarian to tell the story of baseball's Black 20-game winners. It was a subject where Grant was an expert; he was the first Black pitcher to win 20 games in the American League.

Grant used his platform to share how Black pitchers faced an uphill battle their entire careers, often questioned by an establishment who doubted whether Black pitchers were "equipped" to outsmart big league hitters. His 2005 book, The Black Aces gave this brotherhood of 13 Major League Baseball pitchers (at the time of publishing) the opportunity to put their untold stories on record about how they succeeded against insurmountable odds.

Grant died June 11, 2021, in Los Angeles, leaving behind a legacy for many to discover. I profiled Grant's life and career for my Forbes Sports Money column, which includes Grant's own words from an interview I did with him in New York. His book and continuing efforts to promote this select group's legacy will continue to inspire future generations of Black athletes to follow his lead on the mound.


 

Thursday, June 10, 2021

The Top 3 Breakout MLB Stars This 2021 Season


Things aren’t quite back to normal in the MLB just yet, but we are getting closer to some semblance of sports as we knew them before the coronavirus pandemic ravaged the United States. While it may still not be all that of a typical season, all of the main elements still exist, such as the yearly introduction of new stars as they go through their breakout periods.

It’s been quite an exciting season, despite the alarming rate of no-hitters. We have seen a good few players emerge as players who could greatly influence MLB scores with stellar performances on any given night.

We’ll take a look at three of these players in the list below. While there’s still a lot of time in the season as it pertains to things changing, the players noted below certainly have the looks of performers who could keep things going for as long as their teams are involved.

Vladimir Guerrero Jr.

Blue Jays first baseman Vladimir Guerrero Jr. was considered a player to keep an eye on prior to the start of the season. He’s leading the MLB in swing/take runs at 29, and is considered to be the best hitter in the league at the moment. It was thought that he would do much better if he put some height on the ball and it appears he’s been doing just that, registering a lower ground-ball rate, a higher average launch angle, and a higher sweet spot rate.

Guerrero Jr. has nearly doubled his career-best with a 16.1% barrel rate, but his composure at the plate is what’s really brought the best out of him this season. He has been swinging less, but the swings he takes are more valuable. As previously mentioned, he has 29 swing/take runs - the analytic concept places run values to each pitch and can measure a player’s value in various parts of the strike zone.

The 22-year-old is doing less chasing while making the most of the pitches he's seen. His 21 swing/take runs in the middle of the zone are the most in the MLB this season and, should he keep up that sort of discipline, we anticipate a bright future.

Carson Kelly

The Arizona Diamondbacks catcher has only played 28 games this season, having suffered a broken toe, but he ranks in the top 10 in batting average with .381 for players with at least 100 appearances at the plate. He also ranks in the top 10 for slugging percentage with .613, and OPS at 1.103. Kelly leads the league in on-base percentage with .491, besting Mike Trout.

Kelly’s hitting was not very impressive in his first two seasons with the Diamondbacks, but he has made improvements to his game by chasing less balls out of the strike zone. He’s walked in 20.9% of his plate appearances, a huge improvement on the 4.7% from last year. And, while he still doesn’t hit as aggressively, he’s swinging at his pitch more often, which has caused his barrel rate to go up from 4.3% to 13.4%.

His batted-ball data also backs up his numbers, given he’s swinging at pitches he can barrel up while leading MLB with an .458 on-base average. 

Freddy Peralta

Freddy Peralta is having a great season as he leads the Milwaukee Brewers in strikeouts this season and has the fewest hits per nine innings at 4.3 among qualified pitchers. The 24-year-old wasn’t guaranteed to be a starter until a few days before the start of the season, but the Brewers can hardly regret the decision given his performances. Peralta is missing a whole lot of bats and attracting low-quality contact in the air. Thirty-nine of the 96 batted balls he’s allowed this season have been weakly-hit fly balls, which is one of the league’s highest rates at 40.6%, with opponents batting just 1-39 on such pitches.

Peralta was inclined to throw a curveball for his breaking pitch in the past and, while it was effective, he’s opted to use a slider more often, throwing those 32.7% of the time. He’s still throwing the four-seamer but the slider has allowed him to use his curve a bit less. The change has resulted in him allowing a .140 average with 72 K’s in 157 at-bats that end on a slider or four-seamer. 

As teams adjust to a full-season after a pandemic-shortened 2020, young stars will have a chance to make a few trips around the league, showcasing their talents to a fan base that is hungry to anoint baseball's next superstar.