Handicapping the Fall Classic

From the Jim Hurley Network Staff
Contributing Sportsbook Editor

Here's the burning question as we head into the World Series featuring the San Francisco Giants and the Kansas City Royals ... is it really good for Major-League Baseball to have a pair of wild card teams battling for all the marbles?

Hey, we can see out-the-door MLB Commissioner Bud Selig laughing all the way to the bank!

As the ESPN folks have been telling us this week, it will be the first-ever World Series between teams that won fewer than 90 regular-season games in a non-strike season but - as all sports have discovered in recent years - it just really matters whether you can get into the post-season because than anyone can get hot, hot, hot.

And nobody's hotter than the Kansas City Royals who are a perfect 8-0 in post-season play and just check out the profits that Kansas City's piled up ... here's their game-by-game post-season results with everything based on a $100 per-play wager (note home teams are in CAPS below):

                DATE    WINNER  PRICE   SCORE           LOSER
                9-30    ROYALS  +106    9-8 (12 inn)    A's
                10-2    Royals  +177    3-2 (11 inn)    ANGELS
                10-3    Royals  +148    4-1 (11 inn)    ANGELS
                10-5    ROYALS  -129    8-3             Angels
                10-10   Royals  +107    8-6 (10 inn)    ORIOLES
                10-11   Royals  +109    6-4             ORIOLES
                10-14   ROYALS  +106    2-1             Orioles
                10-15   ROYALS  -127    2-1             Orioles

So, anyone that wagered a "buck" a game on the Royals this post-season is a plus $953 - but now the oddsmakers who originally put this one in a pick ?em class has moved Kansas City to the slightest of betting favorites (- 120) and you get the sense the number-crunchers are a tad uncomfortable having the Royals as the favs and not the Cinderella in this World Series.

The formula of making this a "six-inning game" remains intact here for the Royals and their often under-siege manager Ned Yost who counts on Kelvin Herrera, Wade Davis and Greg Holland to hang onto the leads late but the Giants' bullpen regained its mojo in that NLCS five-game win against St. Louis - there's plenty of lefty specialists that Giants manager Bruce Bochy can go to for one batter late that could determine the outcome here.

Go ahead and talk about how the Giants didn't hit many post-season home runs until that dramatic Travis Ishikawa three-run blast to give SF the pennant last Thursday night - maybe that means C Buster Posey, 3B Pablo Sandoval and mates are "due" here

Meanwhile, Kansas City's power surge in the post-season may not be as shocking as you might think even though KC did hit fewer than 100 regular-season home runs - the question here is can the Royals steal bases against this fundamentally sound Giants pitching staff (and Posey) and what happens if/when that Herrera/Davis/Holland triumvirate finally blows a game?

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