What's Up With The Cubs?


While most baseball fans have been focused on the Major League pennant races, oddsmakers have been trying to figure out what to do with the suddenly red hot Chicago Cubs.

That's right, the CUBS!

Chicago is 12-3 its last 15 games after Monday Night's win at Houston. For the most part, they've been very cheap. The market didn't start giving them much respect until that Monday game when they were a road favorite. Much of that was due to the Astros being horrible though rather than the Cubs being recognized as a recent juggernaut. I didn't think the line of -120 was high enough myself…so I released the Cubs as a BEST BET to my baseball clients. We also won with the Brewers Monday Night for a 2-0 baseball board sweep.

As I've discussed in the past, Vegas always pays a lot of attention to Chicago teams. It's amazing how many members of the oddsmaking establishment and local media have connections to that city. A prominent big bettor is a Northwestern graduate too. I guess the roots of sports gambling go back to Chicago just as much as they would for any other major city…perhaps more.

For many years, the Cubs were “America's Team” when it came to baseball betting because of the WGN Superstation. You youngsters weren't a part of that. But, anyone in their 50's or older watched a lot of Cubs games on cable back in the day. Those games were bet in Vegas because TV games always get action. Old habits die hard…and older sharps love to bet! So the Cubs are a team that can influence the market.

But, they were so bad through most of 2010 that everyone had stopped paying attention to them. It was easy to pair them up with the Houston Astros as two terrible teams from the same division. With that Monday win, the Cubs are now a whopping 16 games ahead of the Astros in the standings.

Is Chicago really playing like a playoff caliber team now? Or, did they just run into an easy schedule stretch? Let's look at that 12-3 run.

1 win at St. Louis
Chicago had dropped the first two games of a series in St. Louis. This hot recent run started in the series finale with a 6-3 victory.

4-0 at Pittsburgh
This was the series that broke the hearts of Pirates fans. Pittsburgh had snuck into first place in the division. Here they gagged under pennant race pressure four straight days. The Cubs won by scores of 5-3, 11-6, 1-0, and 7-6. That's three good offensive games, and two good pitching games. They happened to line up just right to lead to four straight victories.

2-1 vs. Cincinnati
Chicago won the first two games of this series to extend their winning streak to seven straight. That would have seemed impossible a couple of weeks earlier. Remember, the Cubs were only playing teams who were better than them in the same division! St. Louis and Pittsburgh were in the heart of the divisional race at the time those games were played.

2-1 vs. Washington
Despite the embarrassment of getting no-hit by Chien-Ming Wang over five innings, the Cubs still won what could have been a letdown series when they stepped out of the division. The pitching staff only allowed eight runs in three games. That was one of the keys to this successful stretch. Starting pitching calmed down and found some form.

2-1 at Atlanta
This was huge. Atlanta is a likely playoff-bound team that still needs to win to lock up the Wildcard. The Cubs won two of three while averaging six runs per game. The loss was that dramatic day where Carlos Zambrano imploded and got kicked off the team. It didn't sound like a lot of players were sorry to see him go. When things are going well, the clubhouse cancers lose their support.

1-0 at Houston
That brings us up to Monday's series opener in Houston…and the 12-3 record over 15 games.

Chicago's hitting. Chicago's pitching. And, they did win three of four vs. Atlanta and St. Louis so this wasn't just a case of beating up chokers or disinterested opposition. Can they keep it up? I'll be watching the market prices very closely because I do think this is a team that's likely to play well for while longer. I'm not suggesting they'll keep winning 80% of their games every two weeks. But, they're TRYING, which is a lot more than half the battle during the dog days of summer.

It's about to get tougher for the Cubs in terms of the schedule. They will really be tested after this Houston series.

3 at home vs. St. Louis
4 at home vs. Atlanta
3 on the road at Milwaukee
3 on the road at San Francisco

That's four teams who need to win in succession. Should the Cubs maintain their enthusiasm and form, they could really make backers some money over those 13 games. But…hot teams usually hit a wall…and you don't want to go chasing the Cubbies every day if they turn back into a pumpkin.

Should be fun to watch, particularly with all the Chicago guys in Las Vegas looking for ways to get involved.

Chicago's been an important part of my past few days. My NFL Preseason program had the Bears on Saturday Night over Buffalo. I already told you the Cubs won for me Monday. You can purchase my daily BEST BETS with your credit card for both baseball and exhibition football. I have some great stuff planned for you this week in both sports. Find out why it pays to have a friend behind the line!

by Las Vegas linesmaker Nick Bogdanovich


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