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Don’t Look Now, But People Are Gambling on the Little League World Series

Person Shocked by Little League Betting
Politically speaking, Americans do not tend to think rationally, but make associations instead.

This point was driven home to me in my college days, when my philosophy professor – a pastor and obviously a right-wing conservative – was teaching a class of mostly liberal youngsters. On a very nice day with an outdoor courtyard shining in the sun, a group of pupils asked the professor if we could go outside to listen and take notes on the lecture.

“No,” smiled the God-fearing PHD. “Fuzzy headed liberalism.”

It wasn’t hard to imagine the connection that our Bush-Reaganite pedagogue was making in his mind. Outdoors. Trees. Tree huggers. Environmentalism. Liberals.

Never mind that the principles of classical right-wing thought actually originated outdoors. Stoic philosophers of Greece were so-nicknamed due to the “stoa” or beams outside the great buildings of Athens where they often stood, sat, and conversed.

Guess they were just being fuzzy-headed liberals.

Pols and think-tankers who speak out against legalized sports gambling in America can be similar nags as my historically-challenged professor in college. They conflate the hobby of speculators and betting pundits with the players, teams, and franchises being offered in the online markets.

Sure, a foolhardy bettor can take NFL Network’s lazy pundits too seriously and gamble his life savings away on the Dallas Cowboys year after year. But it’s not like the Cowboys themselves know or care. The gambling is a completely separate activity on behalf of an unrelated group of individuals.

The Dallas Cowboys are grown men, mostly rich, and probably used to wagering themselves on vacations in Las Vegas or Atlantic City. Yet the pearl-clutching crowd of anti-Vegas activists pretends to be so concerned about how America’s Team could be corrupted by the mighty dollar.

Just think of the uproar if a sportsbook ever offered odds on young amateur athletes – high school kids or Little League even. Egads! Why, everyone from sea to shining sea would be up in arms about this terrible corruption of our innocent, impressionable youth!

It’s asking for trouble, don’t you think? What fools would open themselves up to that kind of criticism on the internet? Ha ha! Ah ha. Heh. Heh…heh…cough.

Visit Bovada Sportsbook, the “big daddy” of betting sites online. Look at the baseball futures odds. Look at the baseball futures odds carefully.

Speak of the devil – there’s a gambling market on the 2019 Little League World Series.

Little League World Series Betting: Not the End of Western Civilization

Penelope Spheeris’ The Decline of Western Civilization series of documentary films were somewhat ironically-titled in that Spheeris clearly did not think rock and punk music would destroy our civilization. In fact, kids who go to punk and heavy metal shows are more likely to join up with an anti-war movement than old fogeys at a Kenny G show – meaning that the tattooed and tattered kids at an Iron Maiden show could actually be responsible for saving civilization.

Those who would claim that sports-betting markets on IIHF World Junior tournaments, FIFA U-18 soccer events, and High School or Little League games in America are a sick symbol of cultural decay are capable of no such irony or deeper reflection. They believe that children will be raised in a society of Mammon in which the evils of gambling will ruin lives and tempt players to cheat and take pay-offs.

Almost no major American sporting event as been fixed in the modern era – with 2 concrete exceptions. Pete Rose probably gambled against his own Cincinnati Reds in the 1980s, while former/disgraced NBA official Tim Donaghy was guilty of taking bribes to fix basketball games decades later.

Tim Donaghy

Exactly how badly Tulane and Boston College ever shaved points at the behest of wise guys in the 1970s and 80s is still open to debate.

Is boxing still full of fixes and dives? Probably not…and neither is UFC. Technology has made it impossible for fighters to fake getting knocked out without someone looking at a super high-definition, slow-motion replay and smelling a rat. Sportsbooks limit themselves to markets on matches sanctioned by reputable ruling bodies that would take a “dive” of their own if crooked bookmakers or mobsters were found to be rigging the results.

In other words, sports are pretty well inoculated against the dangers posed by crooked bettors in 2019. As for legal, regulated, fair gambling markets on the World Wide Web? It’s pretty farfetched to imagine a scenario in which high-rollers could threaten harm to prep-school kids or anyone else to try to rig specific outcomes, especially since recreational betting sites keep strict caps on single wagers.

Even if everyone starts gambling on Little League – fat chance – the kids are perfectly safe from Tony Soprano or any other cartoonish characters that anti-betting folks conjure in their minds.

Instead, any negative reaction to Bovada’s Little League futures odds will be a response to the mere thought of it. “Gambling” and “Little League” in the same sentence is all some people will hear. Because of the negative stereotype, somehow the same rabble-rousers won’t stop to consider that the Dow stock exchange also puts money, profit and baby diapers in the same “proximity.”

Investing in Pampers stock and betting on the Little League World Series are equally harmless to the toddlers and young men “involved” in each case. It’s a separate, private activity that need not interfere or affect the Little League in any way.

That doesn’t mean Bovada isn’t likely to be cautious about how it bites-off that cookie.

Bovada’s Quiet, Careful Line on the LLWS

A typical overseas junior event might be represented by a number of “futures” lines on individual teams and players at Bovada, even long before the tournament takes place.

But – perhaps sensitive to the potential adverse reaction from news and opinion sources – the baseball betting site is offering on 1 “quiet” futures line on the Little League World Series in Williamsport this August.

The futures market is simple – speculators get a (-140) payout if an “International Team” wins the title in Pennsylvania, while bettors get a (+120) if the “underdog” U.S. Little League organization prevails.

Of course, it won’t be a collection of All-Stars from America and overseas taking each other on in the final – except after a fashion. State-side Little League “teams” are actually something of a tryout or “partial” roster scenario since coaches are allowed to put potential World Series rosters together out of the best players who have competed with-or-against each other in regular season games.

That’s where the talent-culling ends, however. When you see “Missouri” or “New York” on Little League World Series scoreboard, it merely refers to the state from whence a municipal All-Star lineup springs.

Once upon a time, the Asian contingent at the LLWS manipulated the rules to produce unbeatable clubs of monsters that would simply crush the American kids. I once saw a manager from Chinese Taipei replace a hurler who had the audacity to give up just 1 base hit to a team from the USA. The Chinese Taipei squad was so stacked with ringers that its goal was to humiliate the Yankee kids as opposed to simply beating them. The visitors were found to be playing dirty, and exited the stage in 1997.

Perhaps Bovada will offer all kinds of lines on the LLWS once the games roll around next month? Very possibly. They might have done it last year and the year before – I didn’t think to look then. For now it’s only the futures odds, since nobody knows what the match-ups will be.

Hopefully none of the kids’ families or fans in Williamsport will be wagering on the ballgames in 2019 and putting their boys under even more pressure – we can all agree on that.

At the same time, I personally hope that none of the most-sanctimonious Little League parents even find out about the Bovada Sportsbook odds, lest we handicappers all get an earful on Facebook (those badly-typed and punctuated flames from users who still think of cell phones as a newfangled contraption) for even writing stories such as this one defending the gambling markets.

A Quick Handicap of the LLWS Futures Market

So if you think the betting odds and action on the Little League World Series are a sacrilege, please tune out now. I’m about to offer a tip on the Bovada betting market.

But even if one of those fictional mafia baddies is forcing you at gunpoint to read this, never fear. We don’t know where the teams will come from yet – there’s only the past trends to go on.

America and the world have split the last 4 LLWS titles. Maine-Endwell of New York managed a tight 2-1 finals win over a squad from South Korea in 2016, and Honolulu beat the South Koreans again in a memorable 3-0 victory last summer.

It’s probably the lopsided scores from the other 2 recent finals that have bookmakers giving visiting nations an edge as a collective. A squad from Tokyo ran over a “home” team from Pennsylvania in 2015, and the same Japanese organization returned to the last ballgame to stomp Texas in ’17.

The disparate final outcomes are helping Bovada’s “international” line to a short (-140).

Tip – futures betting is not the same as ATS betting. If the American boys tend to lose badly when they lose, that might logically affect point spreads or Run Line odds for the Williamsport playoffs. But it shouldn’t command the overall odds as to which side will prevail when the Yanks are holding their own and splitting trophies with interlopers.

ODDS+120

MY PICK:
Take the United States representatives to win the 2019 LLWS at Bovada (+120).