After posting their first winning season in seven years, and returning to the playoffs for the first time since 2005, the Houston Astros open spring training as strong +160 favorites on the odds to win the AL West title at sportsbooks monitored by OddsShark.com.
The Astros stormed out to an early lead in the AL West in 2015 with a league-best 18-8 start, holding the division lead until well into July, but struggled in the second half, enduring a number of lengthy losing skids, including a brutal 7-15 run in September, before clinching an AL Wild Card berth.
Houston is closely trailed on the AL West odds by last year’s division champs, the Texas Rangers, sporting a betting line of +210. The Rangers’ 8-16 start last season sent their World Series odds tumbling to 500/1, but the club rebounded to win their first division title since 2011, and returns to action with last year’s roster largely intact.
The Los Angeles Angels finished just one game back of the Astros in both the divisional and Wild Card races, and returns to action sporting +375 odds, closely followed by the Seattle Mariners at +400, and the Oakland A’s, who trail as +1200 longshots.
In the AL Central, the World Series champion Kansas City Royals are pegged as heavy +110 favorites to repeat as division champs and return to the postseason for a third straight year. The Cleveland Indians have emerged as a strong +250 bet on the AL Central futures, ahead of the Detroit Tigers at +400, the Chicago White Sox at +600, and the Minnesota Twins at +1000.
In the AL East, the Toronto Blue Jays and Boston Red Sox open camp deadlocked atop the division odds at +160, closely trailed by the New York Yankees at +350, while the Baltimore Orioles sit alongside the Tampa Bay Rays as intriguing +900 longshots.
Over in the Senior Circuit, the Chicago Cubs are heavy -150 favorites to be crowned NL Central champs for the first time since 2008, ahead of the three-time defending division champion St. Louis Cardinals at +250, and the Pittsburgh Pirates at +300.
It’s a two-way race atop the NL East odds, where the New York Mets get the nod as -110 chalk, ahead of the Washington Nationals at +110, while the Miami Marlins sit back at +600.
And the San Francisco Giants are a solid +125 bet to return to the playoffs this season as NL West champions, edging out the Los Angeles Dodgers, who sit at +150, and the retooled Arizona Diamondbacks at +300.
Shibutani siblings elected to U.S. Figure Skating Hall of Fame
COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. — Olympic ice dancers Maia and Alex Shibutani along with Paul E. George, who served as the director of the U.S. Olympic Committee, were elected to the U.S. Figure Skating Hall of Fame.
The trio will be inducted Jan. 28 during the U.S. figure skating championships in San Jose, California.
The Shibutani siblings were two-time Olympians who won a pair of bronze medals at the 2018 Pyeongchang Games before stepping away from the sport in their prime. They also were three-time world medalists, earned medals at each of their 14 national championships and were two-time senior U.S. champions.
Maia Shibutani and Alex Shibutani, who is three years older than his sister, became the first U.S. ice dancers to medal at the world debut in 2011, and the second-youngest team to medal at worlds. She was 16 and he was 19 at the time.
George was the Chef de Mission of the U.S. delegation to the 1998 Winter Olympics in Nagano. The longtime member of the Skating Club of Boston, George also was director of the U.S. Figure Skating Association in the late 1980s and early ’90s and later served as president and trustee of the U.S. Figure Skating Foundation.
Father’s Day Gifts 2022: Best ideas for the Sports Fan Dad from Golf to Electronics
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Father’s Day is just days away and as the thinking goes, the Dads of the family are often the hardest to shop for. But with the weather getting warmer, there’s countless opportunities to get outside, whether for sports or relaxation, and that means countless opportunities to find the perfect gift to make Father’s Day brighter for the Dads who love sports in any and all forms.
To help you in the gift selection process (even if you’ve left it up to the last minute!), the team at NBC Sports has sourced great options from across the internet for sporting Dads of all kinds. Whether the person you’re shopping for is up before dawn to get in a workout, more inclined to take in sports from the couch, or the consummate host planning summer’s best tailgate, there’s a great choice on this list across a variety of price ranges. Below are our ideas separated into categories:
This experience is a must for any dad looking to elevate their game. Per the PGA Tour Super Store site, fittings combine “game-changing technology and manufacturer-specific equipment with the personal attention of our certified fitters to deliver a fully immersive fitting session.” Golfers will leave the one-on-one session with specs for perfectly fitted custom clubs that will be built and shipped to you.
Help Dad perfect his golf skills right at home with this practice golf net. Just like the pop-up chipping net, this gift option is lightweight and portable and will allow Dad to hit golf balls right in the backyard.
This bag is lightweight with multiple pockets and perfect for the Dad trying to fit in a workout. It’s available in multiple colors, has waterproof storage for swim gear or sweaty apparel post-gym and doubles as the perfect bag for a quick weekend trip.
Whether it’s for early morning workouts or coaching the 8am Little League game on Saturday morning, a Yeti mug is a great accessory to keep coffee piping hot. Tumblers come in various shapes and sizes to indulge all varieties of pre-game caffeine habits.
The weather is getting warmer, making it the perfect time to give your Dad these comfortable and colorful shoes for the road. The shoes have a quick drying mesh material that will provide the ultimate in efficiency and comfort.
Invented in 1965 and combining elements of badminton, tennis and ping-pong, pickleball is the latest rec sport sensation sweeping the nation. According to the Sports and Fitness Industry Association, it’s one of America’s fastest growing sports, picking up corporate sponsorships and avid enthusiasts nationwide. If Dad is a paddle sport enthusiast looking to indulge their competitive streak, this paddle set is the perfect way to get started.
Garmin is one of the most trusted names in GPS watches and enables you to monitor and track your fitness endeavors while streamlining your training. Whether it’s for the Dad training for their 10th marathon or just getting started in running and biking, a Garmin Forerunner is a great option to level-up your exercise.
This 28-piece set of BBQ accessories is the perfect gift for a Dad that loves to cook for everyone. This versatile set has everything you need: a spatula, fork, 2 barbecue mats, tongs, basting brush, grill brush, extra brush head, meat thermometer, 2 steak knives and forks, 2 shakers, 8 corn holders, 4 skewers and an aluminum case.
The Meater is the perfect kitchen gadget for a Dad who loves to cook meat-forward meals for a big group. It’s a smart thermometer that allows you to monitor the temperature of the meat you’re cooking up to 33 feet away from the grill, oven or rotisserie. Just download the free app and you’re all set!
This cooler has a capacity of 52 quarts and is the perfect option to keep the drinks cold and the tailgate guests happy. Available in multiple colors, it’s a heavy-duty option for all pregame festivity needs.
This cell phone armband case is perfect for any Dad who likes to go on walks or runs outside. His phone will stay secure and safe, and the case comes with an adjustable strap, key pocket and headphone cord holder.
Give your Dad the gift of Amazon Prime! Not only will he get access to Prime Video which will allow him to live stream his favorite sports, but he can enjoy the convenience of a fast and free delivery for online orders.
Make it feel as if your Dad is actually watching the game from the stadium of his favorite sports team. This TV Soundbar speaker will give your Dad a natural HiFi sound experience — perfect for NFL Sundays and also for family movie nights.
Have Dad keep track of his health and fitness, and get notifications from all of his favorite sports teams with the flick of a wrist. The Apple Watch is the perfect gift for the Dads who are constantly on the go.
The Theragun is the perfect gift for the fitness loving father figure in your life. It’s compact with long lasting battery life and best of all, you can connect it to your smartphone and customize its features.
Daniel James Brown’s “The Boys in the Boat” is the true story of the American rowing team that competed at the 1936 Olympics and came away with a stunning gold. Made up of largely working-class athletes from the University of Washington, the U.S. team were some of the ultimate underdogs, making for an incredible story of human achievement.
Jackie Robinson is one of the most legendary and trailblazing figures in baseball, but his autobiography talks about so much more than his career on the field. From his time in the army to his family life to his involvement in American politics, “I Never Had It Made” gives the reader an in-depth look into one of the most famous athletes in baseball and in American history.
Get the baseball ban fan in your life a mug so unique that everyone will ask him about it! This mug was handcrafted from a wooden baseball bat barrel and you can choose a design for any MLB team. Choose Dad’s favorite team and he’ll be sure to love it!
With all the blockbuster NFL trades so far in 2022, your Dad’s favorite player might be starting the season for a different team. The safest bet? A custom jersey with his name – QB1 might have left, but his loyalty to the team isn’t going anywhere, for better or worse!