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Cubs, Dodgers lead way on MLB win total props for 2017 season

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Not surprisingly, three of the last four teams standing in late October have the three highest season win totals in Major League Baseball preseason betting.

The reigning World Series champion Chicago Cubs are projected for 95.5 wins according to sportsbooks monitored by OddsShark.com, marking the second season in a row that the Northsiders have had the highest total.

After the Cubs, the Los Angeles Dodgers (93.5), Cleveland Indians (92.5) and Boston Red Sox (92.5) fill out the top four. The Washington Nationals (90.5) are the other team in the ’90 club.’

There’s a distinct chance the Cubs, with a fully healthy Kyle Schwarber joining 1B Anthony Rizzo, 3B Kris Bryant and SS Addison Russell, could beat their projection. The Cubs also seem unlikely to face a major push from their NL Central opponents, who form nearly half their schedule.

The St. Louis Cardinals (84.5) are retooling and the Pittsburgh Pirates (82.5) could end up dealing CF Andrew McCutchen, a one-time NL MVP, before the July 31 trade deadline.

Of the two American League powerhouses, Boston and Cleveland, the Red Sox are projected to have the more potent offense. That tends to win out in the long run across 162 games, before pitching takes over in the postseason due to chillier weather and more off-days. The Indians could have some regression.

The Nationals always seem to have good regular seasons. It’s important to remember that their NL East rivals, the New York Mets (89.5), were still strong last season in spite of a plethora of injuries.

The team which oddsmakers see taking the biggest drop is the Texas Rangers (84.5), who had 95 wins in 2016 but had a likely unsustainable record in one-run games. Their cross-state rival, the Houston Astros (89.5), have the highest total of anyone in the AL West. As a young team on the rise, the Astros might be a little under the radar.

The Minnesota Twins (74.5) are pegged for the biggest jump after having just 59 wins last season. The Twins haven’t done a lot to upgrade their pitching, though, and could move 42-home run man Brian Dozier before the July 31 non-waiver trade deadline.

Speaking of the deadline, other big names such as McCutchen, Oakland Athletics RHP Sonny Gray and Chicago White Sox LHP Jose Quintana may all be on the move to contenders. In that event, the Athletics (73.5) and White Sox (69.5) could end up on the under side.

The San Diego Padres (66.5) are pegged for the worst record in baseball, but with 1B Wil Myers and RF Hunter Renfroe, they’ll at least be an interesting bad team. Some breakout from their youngsters could help the Padres beat their projection. The White Sox and Milwaukee Brewers (also 69.5) are the other teams with a prop of fewer than 70 wins.

Los Angeles Dodgers’ World Series odds dip heading into month of September

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The Los Angeles Dodgers’ first losing skid all season has done little to increase their World Series price, which is lower than the 2016 Chicago Cubs’ at the same point of last season.

As they get set to welcome ace Clayton Kershaw back after a six-week absence, the Dodgers are a +220 favorite on the 2017 World Series odds at sportsbooks monitored by OddsShark.com. That’s a fair shot below the +290 another National League legacy franchise, the aforementioned Cubs, commanded last season as the calendar flipped to September.

The Houston Astros are the not-so-close second favorite at +500, with the Boston Red Sox (+700), Washington Nationals (+700), Cleveland Indians (+700) and the Cubs (+750) all below 10/1 odds.

The best news for potential Dodgers bettors is that their five-game losing streak – which involved consecutive series losses against the Milwaukee Brewers and Arizona Diamondbacks – might have prevented a rush of casual-bettor money. It will likely also take Kershaw, who will be on a 75-pitch count when he starts on Friday, a few starts to show that he’s in peak form after missing more than a month with a back injury.

In other words, the Dodgers’ price might not move until the September 15-17 weekend, when they visit the Nationals in a  potential NLCS preview.

If either the Astros or Nationals are to make a deep playoff run, they’ll have to score enough in the playoffs to offset their leaky bullpens. Each division leader’s relief corps has an earned run average north of 4.00, which does not fit the recent formula for winning in the postseason.

Either Boston or Cleveland is an acceptable alternative if one is looking for more value than the Dodgers offer, or simply hates laying chalk. The Indians and Red Sox are second and third in MLB in bullpen ERA, and each boasts a staff ace – Corey Kluber for Cleveland, Chris Sale for Boston – who’s capable of flipping a best-of-seven series by winning two games. Those two hurlers are also battling atop the odds to win the AL Cy Young.

The difficulty picking one right now is the fact they would be playing each other in the ALDS if the playoffs were starting this weekend.

It will be interesting to see how the line on the Cubs moves over the next month, especially with a not overly demanding September schedule where they play only two series – both against the Milwaukee Brewers (+5000), their closest pursuer in the NL Central – against a team with a winning record.

Of the two wild card leaders, the Arizona Diamondbacks at +3300 have a far better price than the New York Yankees (+1400) and probably have a better case as a World Series darkhorse.

The Diamondbacks have star power on both ends of the equation (RHP Zack Greinke, 1B Paul Goldschmidt). As a wild card, they could potentially play the Dodgers in the NLDS, which as a best-of-five series has a higher chance of an upset. The Yankees might not have the pitching to win in October, plus there’s the matter of rookie Aaron Judge’s drop-off in play.

 

Little League team disqualified over controversial Snapchat photo

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What you put on social media can have real consequences, and the Atlee Little League softball team from Virginia found that out the hard way over the weekend.

The team, consisting of girls between 12 and 14 years of age, was disqualified from the Junior League World Series over a controversial Snapchat post. After beating the team from Kirkland, Wash. on Friday in a semifinal game, a team member posted a picture of six players flipping the bird with a caption indicating the image was meant for Kirkland, which hosted the game.

While the manager, Scott Currie, had his players apologize to Kirkland in person, the Little League office decided to disqualify the team anyway. In a statement to the Richmond Times-Dispatch, Little League spokesman Kevin Fountain called the post “inappropriate,” adding that it was a “violation of Little League’s policies regarding unsportsmanlike conduct, inappropriate use of social media, and the high standards that Little League International holds for its participants.”

The decision was handed down just hours before the team was set to take the field in the title game, and instead the berth was awarded to Kirkland.

The team was met with cheers on Sunday when it landed home in Richmond, and Currie believes the disqualification was too far a reprimand.

“It’s a travesty to these girls,” he told the Times-Dispatch. “Yes, they screwed up, but I don’t think the punishment fit the crime.”

The Atlee organization released a statement apologizing and seeking further investigation by Little League International into the decision.

However, you can bet the players will certainly think twice before posting anything on social media again.