Sunday, August 22, 2021

NL West Race: Will the Giants Hold Off the Dodgers?

San Francisco Giants / Pixabay

The NL West race has been fascinating all year. Tension is increasing as the playoffs approach, with the Dodgers and Giants practically shadowing each other’s results since the trade deadline. The Dodgers have been atop the MLB World Series odds all season long. It’s a different tale for the San Francisco Giants, who were widely tabbed as a .500 team at the start of the year. San Francisco has the advantage in mid-August and they keep finding a way to win even when games appear to have escaped them. Tussling in the standings, the teams also dueled at the trade deadline. Los Angeles was victorious on that occasion, landing Max Scherzer and Trea Turner. San Francisco was not left empty-handed, however, as they added Kris Bryant and Tony Watson to their roster of resurgent veterans and surprise breakouts. 

Schedule Challenges 

Holding a lead in the division, the Giants have margin for error. They can lose their three remaining games against the Dodgers and still be ahead. The schedule is not kind to Gabe Kapler’s team, though. The Giants have the fifth-toughest remaining schedule. There are 10 games against the Padres, six with the Braves and four with the Brewers. San Francisco has seen off the best MLB has to offer, beating the Dodgers, Brewers and Astros in recent weeks, but there are plenty of stern tests to come. Sitting middle-of-the-pack in schedule difficulty, the Dodgers also see a lot of the Padres. Crucially, they have 12 games against the Rockies and Diamondbacks. Dave Roberts’ club are the runaway leaders in run differential, contributing to a 50% chance of winning the division at FiveThirtyEight. Although doubted for months, there’s no question the Giants are the real deal. Holding off the Dodgers is going to take a special effort, however. They are on course to win over 100 games, which is a pace they need to maintain. The rotation must be strong, and the health of their veterans is crucial. 

Going Deep Into September 

Even pushing for a wildcard would have been a good season for the Giants. Looking to defend their World Series crown, the prospect of a one-game shootout just to make the Division Series will scare the Dodgers. The 2021 season has already been a great one for San Francisco. The entirety of the NL West race has been enthralling. It’s not over yet, and there are bound to be more twists and turns before the regular season wraps up on October 3rd. This division race is going to the final days of the regular season. After months of hype about the Dodgers and Padres’ fledgling rivalry, it is the old foes in The Bay who pose the real threat to the Dodgers’ NL West supremacy. This battle has history, it has massive fan bases, and it has star power. Projections might still give the Dodgers the upper hand, but it would be brave to bet against the Giants given what they have already achieved in 2021.

Wednesday, August 18, 2021

2020 Topps Team USA Olympic & Paralympic Team & Hopefuls Set Review And Box Break

April Ross 2020 Topps Team USA Cards

The 2020 Tokyo Olympics were nothing short of a miracle. Delayed a year by a global pandemic and devoid of fans at the live events, the Olympics gave many hope in a year filled with darkness. The athletes survived the uncertainty and pushed through an extra year of training to pursue Olympic glory. 

The United States emerged victorious at the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games, with 41 gold medals en route to a leading 113 overall medals. With attention in the athletic realm most often going to the ESPN mainstays, Topps has provided a stage in the trading card market for many of the amazing United States athletes with its 2020 Topps Team USA U.S. Olympic & Paralympic Team  & Hopefuls trading card set

Base Set and Checklist

Tokyo gold medalist April Ross headlines the 76-card set, and is backed up by other familiar names including USA softball's Cat Osterman, as well as USWNT members Alex Morgan, Megan Rapinoe and Rose Lavelle. In a somewhat ironic twist, men's beach volleyball star Taylor Crabb, who had to withdraw from the Olympics due to a positive COVID-19 test gets his rookie card in this set, as well as Tri Bourne, who was selected as his replacement. Collectors will also find cards from debut sports such as 3-on-3 basketball, skateboarding and surfing are also included. Click here for the entire checklist

Parallels and Inserts

Topps sticks with its Olympic theme by creating parallels in bronze, silver and gold colors, as well as serial numbered cards wrapped in the United States flag. Notable inserts include the For Pride and Country set, which detail the hometowns of the Olympic stars, as well as the New to the Games set, which gives collectors a primer on the new sports in the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.

Cat Osterman 2020 Topps Team USA Flag Parallel

Autographs and Relics

Each box advertises three major hits including at least one autograph. The box provided for this review yielded two relics and an autograph of karateka Sakura Kokumai. The Olympic Champions autograph subset gives collectors a chance to get signatures from heralded Olympians such as Amanda Beard, Kerri Strug and Kurt Angle. 

Sakura Kokumai Autograph

Box Break And Final Thoughts

After watching the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, collectors now have another reason to familiarize themselves with the many athletes who worked to propel the United States to Olympic victory. While the set lacks the household names from Team USA Basketball (most likely due to Panini's NBA contract), it allows kids who compete in the lesser televised sports across the country to dream of having their own Topps card in the future.

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.


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 Mayagüez, 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 Mayagüez 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.”