Sunday 24 July 2022

Humidor Dead Balls

With the break in baseball for the All-Star Game this week, I've been digging around in the MLB numbers this week trying to understand what might be causing the decline this season in home runs, hits and strikeouts and aside from the Designated Hitter (DH) rule that has been much discussed, there has also been a change to the type of ball being used. 

According to Sports Illustrated, there is a new "less lively ball" in use throughout the MLB, although interestingly the article mentions that it was introduced last year, but not everywhere. I would love to know where but I'm not sure these statistics are available and according to this CBS article, this mix wasn't intended. 

Not surprisingly, a "less lively" baseball isn't going to travel as far as the previously "more lively" baseball. What would have been a Home Run in 2021, at least in some games, becomes a deep fly-ball out in 2022. 

Apparently all 30 ballparks in MLB now use a humidor for storing the balls. I was aware that Coors Field used one, I believe as a condition for allowing the Colorado Rockies to become an expansion team (they play about a mile above sea-level where the air is obviously thinner), but I wasn't aware that they were now in use everywhere.

Last season 10 clubs had them, (5 NL, 5 AL), and as cigar aficionados will know, the purpose of a humidor is to dry out the ball in humid climates and dampen it in dry climates, and of course the drier the baseball, the further it flies.
By design, the baseball does not carry as far because of more uniform manufacturing specifications. (It was introduced last year, but this is the first season with 100% use of the less lively baseball.) Add the use of humidors in all 30 ballparks for more uniform storage protocols, and you get the end of a Rabbit Ball Era from 2016 to ‘21.
No wonder the Totals systems have become unusable. It was apparent that something had disrupted the markets, but until now I was thinking it was more likely the DH rule, but the change of ball is clearly a significant factor and I shall sleep well tonight. 

The CBS article concludes with this:
Bottom line, the baseball is not carrying the same way it did the past few years. The home run rate is down significantly early in the season, and because hitters have yet to adjust, offense is way down too. The season is still young and we need a lot more data before we have a full understanding of how this baseball works and the humidor's impact. The early returns suggest a return to 2013 and 2014, the last time teams averaged fewer than a home run per game, and offense was this low league-wide.

There's never a dull moment in sports betting with changes like this coming along - seemingly every season in the US sports.

The annual MLB system of backing favourites in their first game back had another profitable year, and all-time (well, since the data started in 2004) the ROI numbers for this simple system are now 13.2% (Money Line) and 12.5% (Run Line). Some of you might recall that I mentioned this back in 2016, if not prior:

One trend that did hold true again this season was that of favourites doing well in their first games after the break. The rationale for this is that although the better teams are likely to be better represented at the All-Star game, many of those will only put in a less than exhausting cameo performance, while the majority of their players enjoy the break and get some rest which apparently benefits better teams more than worse teams.

These once a year trends are of limited value of course - come next year and 99% of people reading this will have forgotten about it.

Hopefully some of you enjoyed a boost to your accounts this week but I suspect most fell into the 99% category.

The numbers for Away (or Road) favourites are even more impressive at 20.1% and 29.8% respectively. It's just a pity there's only the one All-Star game a year.

The Women's Euros Quarter-Finals wrapped up yesterday with two Draws from the four games, and a profit whether you backed the Draw in all matches or just the 'no-odds-on' game. It was very nearly three from four with Sweden unable to score against Belgium until stoppage time.

While we only have 12 Semi-Final games with prices from Women's Euros and World Cup, the four Draws mean that, as in the men's game, backing the Draw is a profitable strategy. 

Three matches had an odds-on favourite, with one Draw, and nine had no such favourite and three Draws. 

England are likely to be odds-on on Monday against Sweden, although they have drifted significantly, while the Germany v France game looks fairly even and would currently be a 'Toss-Up' if it were an EPL game. 'Toss-Ups' in men's elimination games have an ROI of 34%

Thursday 21 July 2022

MLB Half-Term Report

As I've mentioned before, this MLB season saw a significant rule change with probably the biggest difference between the two leagues, i.e. the Designated Hitter (DH) rule, being implemented universally. 

For non-baseball fans, in the past National League (NL) pitchers bat whereas in the American League (AL) their place in the batting line-up is taken by a DH, and this rule now applies to both leagues.

As you would expect, more runs are scored in games played under American League rules (those where the Home team is an American league club) compared with games played under National league rules. Since 2004, and excluding the 2020 Covid season when the DH rule was also applied universally, the numbers are 8.4 in NL parks and 8.8 in AL parks. 

As you might also expect, edges that used to exist on betting Totals have been disrupted, and the Overall numbers are not good for this season:
However, the losses are all for NL games, with AL Totals still showing a profit, albeit of just 0.6% but all things considered, I think sitting out Totals for this season at least is probably the smart decision.

The disruption appears to have impacted the Hot Favourites System also, at least in the National League, but for American League clubs the system remains profitable with an ROI of 0.9%.  

After sizzling for several seasons the T-Bone System, which like many other strategies stopped working in the 2020 Covid season, appears to have been overdone and burned to a crisp as it continues to be a loss maker this season. I'll continue to spend time on this idea updating results, but not any money.   

I've mentioned in the past a couple of trends connected to the All-Star Break, with Favourites good value in their last matches before the break as well as in their first game after. 

Peter commented that:
Harking back to your 16/07/21 post about favs in final game b4 the ASB: 7-5 today not so flash but yesterday went 15-1 ! and Friday 9-5 perhaps the full 3 game series b4 the break is worth a look?

Always good to hear that someone is paying attention, and looking at the three days leading up to the break does show that the strategy is successful for all three days.

My post back then pointed out that:

Certainly blindly backing all favourites in the final game before the All-Star Break is a profitable strategy, +6.7% Money Line, +12.1% Run Line.

Here are the numbers including this year's data: 

Saturday this season was rather unusual with the largest return from all 42 days under examination, but a loss on the Run Line! 

As for backing the Favourites in their first outing AFTER the break, we wait. Here are the numbers up to, and including, last season from way back in 2004:

As for the game itself, the New York Yankees have the best record with a winning percentage of .688 (which most people would write as 68.8%) while the Washington Nationals have the worst record at 0.33. No wonder Juan Soto reportedly turned down a 15-year, $440 million contract extension last week, and will likely be traded. 

Women's Euros 2022

Quite a few comments in the past few days, and all are positive which is always a plus. Regarding the ongoing Women's Euros Tournament, I wrote on the 10th July that:

So far every odds-on favourite has won, while every game without an odds-on favourite has finished as a Draw.
It appears that quite a few of you were with me on this simple idea, and it certainly paid dividends. 

Of the 24 Group games, 19 had an odds-on favourite of which 16 won for an ROI of 7.9%, while the more open five matches produced four Draws for a meaningless ROI of 173% or 8.65 units.

Interestingly none of the seven longest priced favourites won, so a 'Lay The Favourite' strategy for any team priced at 1.6 or longer would have been worthwhile. 

The one result with a 'hot favourite' failing to win was the very last match of the round. Favourites France led from the 1st minute all the way up to the 12th minute of time added on when they conceded a penalty (converted) to Iceland for a 1:1 result. It was Iceland's third 1:1 score from the three group games, but despite being unbeaten in the tournament, Iceland were eliminated. 

Leading for 111 minutes and failing to win must be some kind of record!

Prices as short as those you see on the left above are not too exciting, but Larry wrote to say:
Lovely work on the Euro Women's. Round 2 been very profitable. Playing anything above 1.60 as a single and multi betting the real shorties.
Larry's selection of 1.6 as his cut-off appears to be quite prescient, but combining shorties into multiples is a good strategy I like to do myself when possible. 

None of you will remember my post from October 2010 when I mentioned my habit of buying the Racing Post back in the 1980s, possibly into the early 90s, but back then I wrote:
When the Racing Post started covering sports betting, I would buy it just for those two pages. I opened several telephone credit accounts with different firms, and would spend my daily train journey to London comparing the odds offered by them, noting down any prices that were out of line with the others, on sports such as football, the NFL, Formula 1, cricket, tennis, Boat Race, snooker, rugby league and union, and politics.
While I didn't mention it back then, I may have done somewhere else here, but one of my habits in those days was to lump short priced favourites together in multiples, exactly the strategy being followed by Larry. 

Despite passing my 'A' Level in Pure Maths With Statistics, it was often surprising to me just how rewarding a multiple of those shorties could be with, for example, a treble of three 1.3 shots paying out at 2.2.

Incidentally, that 2010 post mentions the exact moment when I realised that looking at the Draw in certain games might be a strategy worth following, and one category of 'certain games' is that of major tournament elimination matches, which is where we are now in the Women's Euros.

Previous Women's Tournaments haven't been a good environment for Draws overall, at least going back to the 2009 Euros, with an ROI of -2%, but in matches with no odds-on favourite, the ROI is a positive 11%. Quarter-Finals have a 26% ROI, Semi-Finals 9% and Finals 263% (with only one qualifier). The Round of 16 is a loss maker, but of course the Euros don't have a Round of 16 so 'Draw' you're own conclusions.

With no odds-on favourite in yesterday's England v Spain game and I took the Draw at 3.5 and a 1:1 result was an excellent start. The other three Quarter-Finals will all have an odds-on favourite, with Germany and Sweden very short. 

Finally. a few of you expressed interest in the 'Sacred Manuscript' mentioned in my last post, with Rob writing:
You’ve previously helped me with some queries regarding your systems which continue to make me a nice return. Thank you for that.

Always nice to hear. 

Next post should be a half-time look at the MLB season, as it takes a short break for its annual All-Star Game, won for the ninth consecutive time this year by the American League. At least one reader will be following the once-a-year system coming out of the break.

Saturday 16 July 2022

Sacred Manuscript

"This is the nature of what we do. It's the intersection of business, people, psychology, sociology, and numbers. It's just inherently fascinating. There's a lot of macro factors and stuff that make sure you never have the game beat. Never."
The quote above comes from Michael Mauboussin who has spent more than three decades studying companies and the investment process.

Substitute "business" with "sports" and what most readers of this blog are trying to do is rather neatly summarised. 

As for the final seven words there, while it is true that no edge should last for ever, and we need to constantly evolve our ideas and systems as "macro factors and stuff" change, it is apparent that edges can last for a lot longer than we might expect. 

And yes, sports investing is inherently fascinating. Warren Buffett long ago moved past the point where more many had any utility for him, and is quoted as saying:
"In a sense, the game that I'm in gets more interesting all the time. It's a competitive game, it's a big game, and I enjoy the game a lot"
Compared to financial investing and Warren Buffett, for most of us sports investing isn't quite such a big game, but back in 2009 I described betting on sports as being a game:
I've never been one for games, (friends at work spend hours playing Call of Duty - why? What's the point?), but in many ways the exchanges are one big on-line game. It's me versus an unknown opponent. My opinion versus yours, except in this game the points are real money.

Thirteen years on and while a lot of things have changed, for example I no longer have any friends at work - the result of being moved to full-time work-from-home status rather than my personality, lest any of you be wondering - I do still enjoy the intellectual challenge of investing, and a little extra money is never a bad thing.

Sports markets are, or should be, examples of complex adaptive systems, but they are often verifiably inefficient. It's these inefficiencies we need to identify to gain an edge. 

A couple of comments on my recent Comment Review - Farewells, Draws and Muscle Mass post expressing interest in the document I mentioned "detailing the exact process and breaking down each step but it comes with details of 8 other long-term profitable systems".

The modestly named Onebrickshort wrote:

As a long term reader of the world's number one sports investment blog, I might also be interested in being able to purchase the sacred manuscript.

And Hkibuzz, a man of efficiency and few words, simply added:

Same here :)

I may steal the term 'Sacred Manuscript' for future use, as it appeals to my sense of humour, as does referring to this blog as 'the world's number one sports investment blog'! There's no downside to having fun while simultaneously taking sports, or any, investing seriously.

Unfortunately comments don't give me your email address, so if you are interested, please use the Contact Form on the top right of the blog or simply send me an email at calciocassini @ after removing the spaces of course.

The document is updated with last season's results and only the current MLB season is in progress. 

I may need to add another System since I mentioned here last weekend that:

To fill the off season for football, this year we have the Women's Euros, and so far every odds-on favourite has won, while every game without an odds-on favourite has finished as a Draw.

It's been a better suggestion than I imagined, with 12 of 13 odds-on teams winning so far (the only loss so far was Norway's at 1.91 yesterday), and of the other five matches, four have been Draws. The one 'Dog to win so far was Germany at 2.83 versus Spain, and both these teams are odds-on to win their games today.  

Sunday 10 July 2022

Winning In Your Sleep, and Women's Euros

Some of you may enjoy this story about a guy who entered an online qualifying tournament for the World Series of Poker’s Main Event, fell asleep after working late, and won.

The online satellite cost $80, and Goldstein registered. But he was worn out from working late that day and went to sleep, forgetting that he signed up.

Unlike most satellites that are structured similar to a standard poker tournament, this one required players to go all-in every hand until there was a winner from the 126 entrants.

As a result, Goldstein’s cards remained live rather than being automatically mucked even though he was sound asleep and not clicking buttons at his computer. The whole satellite lasted a little more than three minutes, according to records from

Goldstein, whose screen name is “GoldsteinE,” started out with pocket queens on the first hand and won nine consecutive all-ins to take the Main Event seat. On the final hand, he made a flush to beat his opponent, “Basil_Hayden,” who got $72 as a consolation prize.

Goldstein woke up early the next morning and said he had approximately 50 messages from friends informing him he won.

“I was just like, “There’s no way,’ ” Goldstein said. “And then I looked at my email, and there’s an email from saying come get your chips. Kind of a little surreal.

“I was literally getting ready for work, so I didn’t have too much time to comprehend it. It was more just, ‘Holy cow, I guess I’m playing the Main (Event) now.’”
The full story with additional details from the Las Vegas Review-Journal is here.

To fill the off season for football, this year we have the Women's Euros, and so far every odds-on favourite has won, while every game without an odds-on favourite has finished as a Draw.

France are odds-on to defeat Italy in the next match. Matches with no odds-on are usually good prospects for Draw hunters, but in the Women's game, this isn't yet the case.

The previous three Euros have just 21 matches (including group games) with no odds-on favourite, and only four of these have ended as Draws.

At some point, the Women's game should mature and become as competitive as the Men's, and perhaps this year is that moment. Something to watch, literally.

Sunday 3 July 2022

Comment Review - Farewells, Draws and Muscle Mass

I was going to blame being away from my computer for a few weeks for getting behind with a few comments posted on the blog, but since they were all from May, I should probably just put my hands up and admit that sometimes I forget to go to the "Comments" page and allow publication of the non-spam ones, which are typically the minority. 

In reverse order, I had a couple from Mulldog regarding the departures from the betting scene of two long-time virtual acquaintances.
The partial end of an era with Mark calling it a day.
Mark Iverson finally called it a day for full-time trading as I wrote about here, and there's not much more to be said that hasn't been said already. The betting environment has evolved considerably in recent years,  and that Mark was able to stay ahead of the game for so long is creditable. 

I'm thinking that the slow evolution is what Mulldog means by "partial end of an era", but as I've written over the years, full-time betting was never a realistic proposition for me for a number of reasons, but that doesn't mean it's not worth pursuing as a serious hobby. Far from it in fact.

I was re-reading a book last week, triggered by a comment from SimonM back in April, and in it was this section:
Nature plays chess, not checkers. There are as many winning strategies in the game of life as there are species on the planet. The best play depends on local conditions and on the strategies of those around you. High-energy strategies have obvious advantages, but low-energy risk-averse strategies can be winners as well.
The book was the previously referenced "Burn" by Herman Pontzer, and is about how we burn calories, lose weight and stay healthy (more on this later), but the statement seems to me to apply quite neatly to the world of sports investing. 

We all have our 'local conditions' and ultimately, as I've stated before, we are all in competition with those around us, and if the efficacy of their strategies catch up with, or surpass ours, then we are in big trouble. 

A high-energy (high-risk) strategy of full-time betting comes at the cost of a career, pension contributions, paid holidays, sick days and the less tangible, but social, benefit of working with others.

The other departure Mulldog commented on was the sad loss of Graeme Dand, who had been a friend virtually for probably 15 years. 
RIP Graeme. I never realised Graeme was a reader here too.

Graeme loved his horse-racing, his spreadsheets and his family - though I'm pretty confident not in that order - and the high esteem in which he was held was obvious in the support and comments he received as he so courageously faced the end of his life. 

As for being a reader here, he was the first ever commenter back in 2008 and was heavily involved in the football betting / tipping competition I organised back in 2014-15. He was one of the "Bounty Boys" with a contribution to the pot and with his TFA Draws (D1-D6) entry, came out on top of the Draws entries. 

On May 17th, modern synthesist commented:

Only just discovered this blog, and it's really excellent. Is the EPL draw system explained anywhere? I'd be interested to know how it works.

"Only just discovered this blog"? Unbelievable! The world's number one sports investment blog (admittedly self-proclaimed, and somewhat tongue-in-cheek) and some people are still unaware of its existence! 

Better late than never I suppose, and as for the EPL Draw System details, basically the idea is to find games where the fair (after removing the overround) win probabilities for both teams are within 25% of each other. 

These are what I call "Close" matches, with "Toss-Ups" being a subset of these that are within 10% of each other. I use Pinnacle's Closing prices for calculating the 'official' results, but strategies can vary.  

I do have a document detailing the exact process and breaking down each step but it comes with details of 8 other long-term profitable systems and in fairness to those who have paid for this, it wouldn't be right to give away everything here. 

Finally, on the topic of burning calories touched upon earlier, there was this comment from unknown posted on my April month end summary post titled "Darwen, Tesla, Twitter and April Losses"::

Sounds like your muscle mass is decreasing if between 1500-1900 is your calorie balance. Increase muscle mass will raise your equilibrium. Then 1900 will be you base line and you'll require 2300 to increase fat deposits.

The part that triggered this comment was this:

The net calories trend I mentioned last month - 1500 or fewer net calories a day and my weight goes down; 1900 or greater, and it goes up - was unfortunately reinforced after a month of too much eating and drinking and not enough exercise meant that my daily net calories averaged 2181 with a consequent guaranteed weight gain.

Not surprisingly, the pattern has continued through May and June although I really need some months where my net is between that 1468 and 1912. It seems that I'm either all-in on losing weight, or I'm not. Here are the updated numbers through June:

My AUs column refers to daily pints rather than the UK's definition of two units to a pint, and yes, before anyone comments, the numbers are arguably a little high with those 'dry' months clearly related to weight loss. 

Summer months are in yellow and with only one (so far) seeing a decline in weight, albeit by just 2.2 lbs, this isn't a great time of year.

The suggestion to increase muscle mass seems entirely reasonable given that muscle burns more calories than fat, but easier to achieve in theory than practice I suspect. My preferred exercise these days is the aerobic walking and hiking and my 2022 target of 1,200 miles is looking far too soft with 900 miles already behind me this year. Maybe I should hit my target and spend the last quarter of the year in the gym building muscle!

Saturday 2 July 2022

English Finals, Q2 22 and American League Hotties

Losses in the second quarter just ended set a new record, managing to beat the Covid panic losses of Q1 2020 by some margin, and this is also the first time that the first half of the year has been negative. 

Both the FTSE 100 and S&P 500 are down year-to-date, with the latter having it's worst start since 1970 when I was still singing treble and my income was half-a-crown pocket money a week, its purchasing power being slowly eroded by the 6.4% inflation rate at that time, a rate that is not too dissimilar to that of today.

Fortunately my income these days is slightly higher, and my voice slightly lower, so it's not all bad news. At some point in the future, hopefully soon, the markets will turn upwards again, and with the benefit of hindsight we will all look back and view the present time as a great buying opportunity. 

April actually started off rather well, with my all-time high set on the 20th of that month, but since then I'm down close to 9%

Sports investment profits have very little effect overall these days as I've mentioned before, but as this was primarily a betting blog, here are some numbers from June, although I was away for three-quarters of the month so the 'official' returns weren't close to my actual profits.

We had just the one football bet which was the National League Play-Off Final between Grimsby Town and Solihull Moors, with the Draw a winner at 3.58. Backing the Draw in English Finals in 2022 had an ROI of 86%, (impressive, but don't get too excited with such a small sample size), the full results for the season being:
A more meaningful ROI for this system is from the 138 finals since 2004 where the ROI is 8.5%.

Other than that it was just baseball, where the Hot Favourites made 5.15 units, an ROI of 2.7%, although again notably the National League selections generated a loss.
July, August and September (including a few October games) are usually good for this system, with that July 2016 loss something of an outlier.  

Friday 1 July 2022

Doctor Doctor, Gives Me The News

It's always good to receive comments and feedback, and my old friend @DrTsouts was kind enough to send me his results after following some of my systems.

Overall his ROI is 7.1%, with the details (shown with the good Dr's permission) as follows:
The highest individual system ROI is from the low volume "English Finals Draws" followed by "Africa" (which was the 2021 Africa Cup of Nations played earlier this year) with the NFL systems also performing well.

With a losing ROI of 35%, the MLB Overs system is the biggest drain on the profits, but as I mentioned in the last post, right now I am not involving myself with games with National League clubs due to the changes to the Designated Hitter rule. As we saw this season with the NBA Overs System, when there is a significant rule change, established edges can rapidly be eroded, although in the case of the NBA the outcome was fewer bets rather than a lost edge. 

The reported EPL Draws loss was interesting given that for the Close matches my ROI% numbers for last season are 2.4% and for the Toss Up matches, 14.6% but Dr Tsouts confirmed that these results were for the second half of last season and as I wrote in January, this system declines sharply after December, a trend that continued in the season just ended, with the numbers for the two 'halves' since 2000-01 updated below:
Before you ask "well why don't we just follow this system for the first half of the year?", there are some interesting trends when looking at the day of the week when the matches are played. For example, one big exception is qualifying matches played on an April Saturday, which were again profitable this season. Wednesdays are also solid throughout the season: 
Anyway, many thanks to Dr Tsouts for sharing his actuals, and allowing me to share them with you all.