Twins Open New Stadium vs. Bosox

 HANDICAPPING NOTEBOOK

MINNESOTA TWINS OPEN NEW STADIUM
TODAY VS. BOSTON RED SOX

by Mathew Hurley, Managing Editor

It's the day fans in Minnesota have been waiting for. They don't have to watch games in a football dome...with a big garbage bag servicing as the right field wall...and no sense of a Spring breeze or Summer sunshine. Outdoor baseball is back for the first time since 1981!

The Minnesota Twins will play their first game at Target Field today, as the Boston Red Sox come to town. There's a sense in the media and with some handicappers that having a 'new' stadium often inspires a team toward a great season. Pundits say these teams will become playoff contenders because of the enthusiasm. Bettors expect there to be value betting against lines that aren't fully reflective of the new atmosphere.

Well, you can definitely go back in history and find some teams who played very well in their new digs. You can also look over your shoulder at the disastrous 2009 New York Mets! Not every team gets touched by the magic.

We'll grant that enthusiasm is going to be there. Let's just remember these potential negatives:

*The Twins had a historically high home field advantage in the past because of their unique environs. Artificial turf is becoming extinct. The Metrodome itself was unique as far as domes go. There were also rumors that the dome staff would 'creatively' use the air conditioner in a way that helped the home side.

It's one thing when a lousy team with little home field edge changes stadiums. A new enthusiasm really can inspire a great year. But, if a team that was ALREADY strong at home changes stadiums, there's almost no place to go but down.

*Don't forget the climate! The Twins moved to a dome in the first place because weather in April and September isn't necessarily ideal for baseball in the Great White North (or in October when they make the playoffs). Maybe global warming will make that irrelevant. Or, maybe cold weather will be an equalizer that takes away some of the edge at first. Few baseball players like the cold. Nobody likes it at first. Maybe it will be an edge in 2015 or so once the Twins franchise has had a few years to adjust. This year, any weather influences could serve as an equalizer in a city where things didn't used to be equal.

*Successful franchises tend to build their talent around their home ballpark. Teams with spacious parks focus on speed and fly ball pitchers. Teams with shorter dimensions play the power game and focus on ground ball pitchers. Minnesota just spent almost 30 years focusing on indoor baseball (very successfully). It may take awhile to make the tweaks necessary to thrive outside.

*The dynamic is such now that fans EXPECT you to have a big year in a new stadium. They remember the successes from other cities and forget about the Mets debacle. The pressure is on to perform. Fans get impatient if they don't see results right away. The last thing a franchise wants is a new stadium full of impatient fans.

Now, we don't want to suggest that 2010 is set up to be a disastrous year for the Twins because of these possibilities. This is a team that won its division last year, and is off to an impressive start already. They were dominant last week playing nothing but road games against projected playoff contenders! Hey, they're already doing great in outdoor baseball!

The pitching staff lacks a superstar, but has the kind of consistent quality that grinds out wins over the five man rotation. The ace reliever is out for the year, but it's much easier than people realize to find a guy who can get three outs with a lead. Teams do this every year with guys nobody heard of until he hits the spotlight. The offense would get a lot more ink if they wore Yankees or Red Sox uniforms instead of Twins uniforms. A guy wins an MVP, gets a video game TV commercial, and people still wouldn't recognize him on the street. (Well played Mauer, you need to date Madonna!).

The Twins are for real, and you should bet them accordingly in Las Vegas. Just be careful assuming the new home field is going to give them a 'lift' of any sort. The team is already good. Adjusting to the new stadium is actually a potential monkey wrench in this very unique circumstance.

We're not talking about a 62-100 team moving out of a hellhole into Nirvana. We're talking about a threat for 90-95 wins moving from a place where they had a big edge to a place that maybe kind of chilly half the season.

We'll be watching this situation very closely. You know we're off to a solid start in the bases, and our red hot NBA is at 60% for the year, 67% the past few weeks. JIM HURLEY'S NETWORK wins because we stay on top of every development!

 

BASEBALL BLASTER!

 The baseball season is in full swing as we enter Week 2, and the Jim Hurley Network is dialed in on Monday's card with the same "in-the-zone" mindset that Albert Pujols has when he tees off on a pitch. There's only six games on the schedule, but one of them is a blockbuster betting situation, the kind that can set your bankroll up for the rest of the week. Our game grades out as strong as our Blue Ribbon Dog Of The Day did on Saturday, when the Blue Jays (+135) shut out the Orioles 3-0. This one will be blast the board, and we'll tack on two bonus games from the NBA for good measure!

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What does that mean in terms of the new stadium?

*Our SCOUTS and SOURCES will be watching this early action very closely for clues as to how the players are adjusting. You'll recall this helped us last year early in the season with both stadiums in New York...particularly with Overs in Yankee Stadium early on and Unders with the Mets all year when the right kinds of pitchers were on the mound.

*Our STAT HANDICAPPERS will be combing the boxscores for the numerical ramifications of the new environment. Note that some ROAD teams will end up being well-suited to this park, while others will be in big trouble. One of the hidden keys to picking side and total winners in new stadiums is recognizing what will happen to the visitors!

*Our COMPUTER PROGRAMMERS are already set with a projected 'ballpark factor' multiplier, and are ready to adjust that on the fly. The state-of-the-art computer programming allows us to deal with new developments in any sport. Baseball evolves quickly, and we've been at the forefront of that all through the steroid and post-steroid era.

*Our WISE GUY CONNECTIONS will be monitoring the smart money very closely in Twins home games. This is a sport where professional wagerers have become very savvy. They're not likely to see something we don't see. If they do, our sources in Vegas and offshore will let us know very quickly.

Will we be playing something TODAY in the debut game? You'll have to sign up for service to find out. The number to call is 1-800-323-4453. Among the games of interest for us today:

Boston at Minnesota (obviously)
Milwaukee at Chicago Cubs on WGN
Atlanta at San Diego
Oakland at Seattle
Tampa Bay at Baltimore

We're also looking to continue our blitzkrieg of the NBA, with particular attention being paid to:

Atlanta at Milwaukee
Oklahoma City at Portland
Orlando at Indiana
Toronto at Detroit

April is always a very exciting month in the bases...and the NBA playoffs start later this week! It's the perfect time to get on board. If you'd like to get your feet wet for a few days, you can purchase game day selections here at the website with your credit card.

We'll say the same words to you they'll be hearing outdoors for the first time since 1981 in Minnesota today...

PLAY BALL!

This article is part of the VSM MASTERS SERIES presented by VegasSportsMasters.com and JimHurley.com. For more information on JIM HURLEY'S handicapping packages, call 1-800-323-4453.

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