CasinoCityTimes.com

Gurus
News
Newsletter
Author Home Author Archives Author Books Send to a Friend Search Articles Subscribe
Stay informed with the
NEW Casino City Times newsletter!
Newsletter Signup
Stay informed with the
NEW Casino City Times newsletter!
Recent Articles
Best of Howard Schwartz

Gaming Guru

 

Five Books on Betting Bases, Fixes Including the 1919 World Series

14 January 2004

The greatest fear in the minds of those who operate (owners) and promote (television) baseball is a repeat of the infamous Black Sox Scandal (1919 World Series between Cincinnati and Chicago). Pete Rose's recent confession that he had indeed bet on baseball (after denying it for 14 years) brings the spotlight back to a dark controversy only months before the 2004 season begins.

It seems that except between bookmaker and bettor, gambling and baseball must not even be mentioned in the same breath. Pete Rose isn't the first player to face the heat when it comes to the subject of gambling or associating with the wrong people while an active player or manager. Leo Durocher knew Bugsy Siegel and Joe Adonis in the 1940s; Detroit pitcher Denny McClain admitted he bet on sports (but denied betting on baseball) and became a bookmaker in the 1970s.

So, for those curious about how one bets on baseball and what the history of fixes are (in the majors and minor leagues), plus a partial answer to why a professional athlete (sometimes overpaid, many times in the past, underpaid) would jeopardize his career to make quick money, here are five titles that make for terrific reading.

In 1981 Mike Lee wrote a marvelous 71-page paperbound titled Betting The Bases ($8.95). Little had been written on how to interpret the money line; understand winning and losing streak patterns and taking advantage of them; the danger of overplaying favorites; the home field advantage and the vital area of proper record-keeping. Although you'll see pitchers referenced who have long-since retired, Lee's book remains mandatory reading for the beginner who seeks value in his investment (bet) and who has the patience to wait for the right opportunity.

In the late 1990s, Robert Ross saw the need to expand on many of Lee's concepts. In his book, titled Betting to Win on Baseball (A Textbook for the Baseball Bettor) ($29.95, 8x11 spiralbound, 202 pages) Ross not only explains the money line, but delves into how the bettor can make his own line; how to keep daily logs to track a team's performance; how to handicap the pitchers; betting totals (also known as the over-under); and the most crucial area of all, money management‹for without that, all is lost.

Jim Albert and Jay Bennett have written a unique book titled Curve Ball (Baseball, Statistics and the Role of Chance in the Game). Their 350-page hardbound ($29.95), is "Bill James revisited" to a degree, but it also references Earnshaw Cook and Sy Siwoff. Cook wrote the one of the first books in the 1960s which by accident helped baseball bettors with their handicapping and his classic Percentage Baseball is now a collector's item. Siwoff of the Elias Sports Bureau was one of the first compilers of baseball records.

There is heady stuff in this work -- including Least Squares Linear Regression; simulation models; how to interpret baseball data; streaks; measuring offensive performance; measuring clutch play; predicting game results. This is not a simple book to use to find simple answers. If you're a probability expert seeking to develop a methodology to handicap baseball profitably, this might be a valuable tool, an idea generator to move your project in the right direction.

Now we get to a more serious subject covered in two outstanding works.

The first book is called The Fix Is In (A History of Baseball Gambling and Game Fixing Scandals) by Daniel Ginsburg (317 pages, hardbound, $29.95). This 1995 text looks at attempts and actual fixes of baseball games from the 19th Century into the Pete Rose era. It is perhaps the most fascinating overall history book on the subject, offering details such as Boston being a standout city for gamblers to "take over" both the Braves and Red Sox ballparks to openly accept bets. In one game, the gamblers rushed onto the field to try to force the game to be rained out so all bets would be off. They failed when the rain stopped. This was 1917 baseball. It got worse when players like Hal Chase of the Giants (and later playing for other teams) made open offers to help fix games even before the 1919 scandal with the never-proved guilty but often-mentioned gambler Arnold Rothstein.

There were minor league fixes and scandals and finger-pointing at Tris Speaker and even the great Hall of Famer Ty Cobb, along with Honus Wagner. Questions are introduced‹was there a coverup after the big 1919 scandal to preserve the integrity of the game once and for all?

Indexed and well referenced, this is not a well-publicized book from a specialty publisher, but it's a valuable resource for those with a need to know more.

Was "Shoeless Joe" Jackson innocent? Was he just an illiterate innocent caught in the web at just the wrong time? Author David Fleitz, profiles the player many call the greatest natural hitter the game has ever known in Shoeless (The Life and Times of Joe Jackson) (314 pages, paperbound, $29.95).

Jackson died in 1951. There have been attempts to clear his name‹to separate him from those barred from baseball forever for fixing the 1919 World Series. Jackson, who "had the eye, the timing and the smoothness" to become one of the greats in baseball, made $8,000 in 1920.

Jackson had sensitive feet‹he would play in his stockings in the minor leagues where he got his nickname. Interestingly, Bob Feller (who opposes Pete Rose's attempt to enter the Hall of Fame) and the late Ted Williams, both thought Jackson had been punished enough and deserved a place in Cooperstown.

This is a story‹a profile of a super player, another era and what the sport was like generations ago. It's about how poorly players were paid then, and how their temptations almost ruined the Great American Pastime.

Howard Schwartz
Howard Schwartz, the "librarian for gamblers," was the marketing director for Gambler's Book Club in Las Vegas, a position he held from 1979 to 2010, when he retired. Author of hundreds of articles on gambling, his weekly book reviews appear in numerous publications throughout the gaming industry.

Howard Schwartz Websites:

www.gamblersbook.com
Howard Schwartz
Howard Schwartz, the "librarian for gamblers," was the marketing director for Gambler's Book Club in Las Vegas, a position he held from 1979 to 2010, when he retired. Author of hundreds of articles on gambling, his weekly book reviews appear in numerous publications throughout the gaming industry.

Howard Schwartz Websites:

www.gamblersbook.com