I’ll Bet You!!

Betting isn’t anything new in the world. “Bookies” have been around for centuries It’s been said that the Gladiator Games in Rome were used for entertainment and…for betting. We did it as kids…I bet you that I can beat you in a race to the corner or  I bet you  that I can hit it over your head. In those cases, pride, not money, was the capitol involved. Now, the gambling industry upgrades their reach into the MLB with huge amounts of money expected to change hands. 
…Bally’s Casino Corp bought the naming rights from Sinclair Corp for $85m for the Fox Sports Outlets. The very name itself indicates the goal…..to increase viewers/fans/folks to gambling. This was a clever “end run” around some restrictions for Bally.  Their logo will appear many times a) highlights from ANY of its stations is shown on any National SportsCenter or social media outlet b) upcoming schedules of Bally’s games. The warnings about gambling addition that usually accompanied by links to problem gambler helplines won’t be there. In essence, if you watch Fox sports Midwest at all, Bally’s advertising will essentially be a billboard that you can’t avoid seeing.
…..what does all of that mean for you directly? Well….watching Cardinal games will be vastly different. The Bally’s name presence and ALL the opportunities to “jump on board and join in the fun” will be promoted through continual Bally score updates, Bally highlights, ribbons flashing persistently across your screen & Bally “updates” across the league.  All of this exposure is intended to lure you into the gambling world….or to deepen your stake! After all 124 million Americans already visit Casinos (stat from 2019). In 2016, 64% of Americans said that they had gambled during the year. Soo.. this won’t be a leap for many of them…just a baby step …to gambling daily on MLB games.
….From the other side of the screen, the Cardinal viewing TV base is older…probably much older.. for the most part. Sure…the younger folks watch thru various streaming outlets & their cell phones but usually for shorter, less frequent times. The REAL question is….will the ol’ folks be “turned off” by the incessant stream of “ribbons, quick notes , and other techniques about the gambling “opportunities”. These older fans are your season ticket holders…year after year. Sure….some corporations buy “good” tickets to wine/dine their clients. But…in this very unique city, season ticket holders buy AND keep their seats for a long time. Yes….they do use “stub Hub” to unload or to profit from unwanted ballgame tickets some of the time. None the less, they STILL have those season tickets. Despite the statistics below , I really DO believe that more than 19% of people in St Louis over 65 have an avid interest in the Cardinals. See national chart below:
MLB interest level in the U.S. as of 2020, by age
        AVID        casual        no interest
18-34        16        26        48
35-44        24        33        43
45-64        22        34        44
65+           19        31        50
Right here in St Louis, will the older fan base be “turned off” by the gambling aspect on televised games? If so….would that be the 1st step in inching ..then moving… away from their solid Cardinal support? Would the Cards start to see the crumbling suport…ever so slightly at first…of the older fans? Once the gambling train begins moving….it’ll be very, very hard to stop!
….Clearly the MLB must be concerned about the level of interest of the 18-34 year olds. Gambling may enhance their interest! But…will it lead to more interest in gambling or the game?   Would baseball just become the vehicle to gamble right at home nightly for 6 months?             
….I watched Michigan beat Ohio State last weekend in a very impressive win. I would have bet that the Wolverines would handle Illinois in Ann Arbor. NOT AT ALL! It was an Illini “blow out” 76-53!  Illinois coasted after holding a 61-36 lead mid-way 2nd half. Illinois was quicker, stronger inside, shot better and clearly dominated this good Wolverine team! The Illinois win was the highest win against a ranked opponent ON THE ROAD since 1989. On the other side of the coin, it was Michigan’s 2nd largest loss at home in 25 seasons!     
…All of us know that Stan Musial was clearly a HOF player. But….I bet that you didn’t know this about him.(I didn’t). He had two utterly spectacular years! In 1946 Stan led the league in Hits-228, Runs-124, Doubles-50, triples-20, bat avg-.365, OBP-434, slug%-587, WAR of 9.2 and an OPS of 1.021 as he led the Cards to their 3rd pennant in 5 years & World Series Championship. But….it wasn’t over! In 1948, Stan may have actually been better! He won All but one the major categories and by wide margins—Bat Avg-.376(43 pts better than #2); hits-230-40 higher than #2; runs-135-18 higher than #2, doubles-46-6 more than 2nd man; Triples-18-6 more than #2, RBI-131, 6 more than #2; OBP-.450—27pts higher than #2; Slug.702, an amazing 138 pts higher than #2; extra base hits-103, 28 higher; total bases 429, 113 higher. In 611 official AB’s Stan struck out just 34x!! His 39 HR left him 1 short of the Triple Crown! He was the MAN!
 ….I would bet that the Cards are going to “go steady” with Bader, O’Neill & Carlson through at least May. In my mind, O’Neill is on the thinnest ice. If by late-May, Bader &/or O’Neill are really struggling….say .220ish with a low OB%, the Cards will be forced into changing. O’Neill has 450 career plate appearances in his career.  His exit velocity has continued to drop each of his 3 years from 93.3, 89.7 to 88mph. Sooo…he’s NOT hitting the ball as hard as he did when he arrived in the MLB. Generally, I think 1000 plate appearances (2 full years of starting) is required prior to making a “final” judgment. Bader already has over 1000 PA, his career is .234…so…what you see… is probably what you’ll get from him. Could you live with a CF hitting that average?  Maybe… with that speed & defense & IF the other OF DO hit! If slow starts do happen, it is time to give longer, extended looks @ Lane Thomas, Austin Dean, Justin Williams. This trio comprises the next wave of young Card OF.  As always, another wave is behind them …receiving raving reviews (like they always do)  in the lower MiLB.       
…..I bet that the N.Carolina b-ball fans are restless. After being spoiled by Coaches Dean Smith & Roy Williams, who have coached 54 of the last 60 years @ NC, the ship is slowing down. Last year the Tar Heels suffered their first sub .500 season under Williams. This year, NC is 15-9. Good but not the Golden territory that Carolina has enjoyed since 1961 when Dean Smith took the reins. Williams just turned 70 last August…soooo…..you know how it is…if you win—who cares about your age but if you lose…you’re too old and outta touch and… outta here!            …I’ll bet that this blog is ending 😊 I’m anxious to read your thoughts on the impact of Bally’s in the Lou. Thanks for the read! Put your thoughts directly on my Facebook page or send to me & I’ll post them.  No bets required!!

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