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Royals Setting New Standard for Futility

By Robert Ferringo of Doc's Sports Picks

I guess this is what we should've expected out of David Glass, the multi-millionaire former President and Chief Executive Officer of Wal-Mart. Glass made his mark as the head of a company renowned for making money peddling shoddy, low-rent, bargain-basement products. So now it shouldn't be surprising to anyone that as the Owner of the Kansas City Royals he is in charge of a shoddy, low-rent, bargain-basement Major League Baseball team.

After their weekend series in New York, the Royals sit at 11-36 and are 23 games out of first place in the American League Central. They could be eliminated from the playoffs before the All-Star break. Kansas City has become the first team in more than 100 years to post two double-digit losing streaks before their 44th game, and they also tied five other clubs for the worst 41-game start in baseball history (10-31).

Basically, they are an abortion of a baseball team and may God have mercy on their souls. But here is the Real question: how do you bet a team that has given up on life?

The Royals have been the worst bet in the Majors in 2006, putting anyone wagering $100 a game on them in a $1700 hole. That's nearly $700 more in losses than the Angels, who are the second-worst bet in the American League. There is also nearly a $3800 difference between Kansas City and former AL Central cellar-dweller, Detroit.

Today we're going to discuss the Mathematics of Losing, and I'll provide three potentially profitable options on how to play Kansas City for the rest of this season. Because hey, it's all about options.

Strategy 1: Bet the Royals to lose everyday

This is like betting against the Bad News Bears - it seems like a no-brainer. But gambling isn't just about winning. It's also about value, and that's something the Royals don't offer.

Through their first 47 games, the Royals have been posted at an average of +186 to win and -222 to lose. That means you're earning about $46 for every $100 wagered against Kansas City. That also means that it takes five K.C. losses to equal the payout for just one win.

Someone playing against Kansas City in 2006 would have already experienced a 12.5 percent profit. That sounds great, but the next time I go on a 37-11 rush I hope to finish up more than $600.

Furthermore, we may be buying into their misery a little too late. The average odds against the Royals over their last five games (vs. Detroit, at New York, and at Oakland on Monday) have been about -315.

On the other hand, it could be fun to bet against the Royals everyday. They would be your own personal Stuart Smiley - making you feel like you're good enough, smart enough, and that people like you. But while betting against the Royals may be good for the ego it's not nearly as good for the wallet.

Essentially, the wager you would be making is on whether or not this Kansas City team is worse than the 2003 Tigers club that finished 43-119. To match Detroit's futility the Royals would have to go 32-73 the rest of the way. At that pace K.C. would pay out just $200 if the long-term average against stays at -220.

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Strategy 2: Bet the Royals to win everyday.

No I'm not drunk. Nor high. Nor have I been recently smashed in the head. The Royals clearly offer tremendous value to someone with the right balance of patience, discipline, and bankroll.

As of Monday, the Royals had 115 games to play. If they finish 41-74 that would leave them at a putrid 52-110. But it would also turn a small profit of $226. And every loss under 110 means another $186.

I mentioned that Kansas City became the fifth team in Major League history to start a season 10-31. Below is a list of the teams, their eventual record, their record after the horrid start, and how much money they would have paid out at to someone laying $100 on them in their last 121 games (at an average of +175 a game).

Year Team Overall record Last 121 games Money
1998 Arizona 65-97 55-66 +3025
1994 San Diego* 47-70 37-39 +2575
1987 San Diego 65-97 55-66 +3025
1979 Toronto 53-109 43-78 -275
1965 Oakland 59-103 49-72 +1375
*Strike-shortened season

I assumed +175 because as these teams started improving the odds would have come down. For Kansas City, I expect a spike towards +200 before the All-Star Break. Then the numbers should settle out if the Royals start playing better. The odds will also dip during September if the K.C. players make a late run to avoid the record books.

There's clearly profit potential here if the Royals can string a few wins together. It's also difficult because not too many gamblers are willing to bite the bullet and sit through several six- and seven-game losing streaks waiting for the long-term payoff. However, the Royals have gone just 1-6 since the 10-31 start, meaning that six more losses are out of our way.

It should be noted that the 2003 Tigers started 9-32, and finished 43-119. At the current K.C. price (+186), with the same amounts wagered, that would have left a gambler down $2,376.

Kansas City is currently on a pace to finish 38-124 and way out of the money. But that's the whole bet. Are they really this pathetic? Will they make a run after GM Allard Baird finally gets put out of his misery? How will they be affected by the trade deadline? That's why it's gambling.

Strategy 3: Pick your spots, but generally stay away from the Royals.

Would you believe that the Royals have not been posted as a favorite at any point this season?

Kansas City was posted at +150 or lower just 12 times over its first 47 games. They are just 5-7 in those games, but are 5-5 in the last 10 (a $221 profit) and 3-1 in the last four (a $332 profit).

Needless to say, if you see Kansas City posted at or below +150 that means that someone knows something you don't. As completely absurd as it sounds, that number is the equivalent of them being posted as a favorite and seems like a good set to play them at.

Questions or comments for Robert? E-mail him at robert@docsports.com.

The views expressed in this article are not necessarily those of Doc's MLB picks service or Valley Sports.

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