Call it baseball's Tale of Two Cities.
It's the best of times. And, maybe – the worst of times.
This past weekend was certainly the best of times, as gambling on baseball exploded in popularity beyond anything previously seen.
Take sports gambling in New Jersey, for instance. Despite Atlantic City casinos being limited to just 25 percent of capacity, sportsbooks took in record numbers of regular season baseball bets. According to ESPN, the first three days of the abbreviated 2020 season took in about the same volume as three weeks of usual mid-season action. It was also reported by ESPN that at least six wagers of $100,000 or more were made in New Jersey.
Those are NFL-like figures.
Enthusiasm for gambling on baseball was just as heavy in Las Vegas and at offshore sportsbooks:
Sportsbooks around the nation felt the pent-up demand of baseball bettors. William Hill U.S. and the SuperBook at Westgate Las Vegas each said that Saturday, which featured a 15-game baseball slate and a UFC event, was their largest day in terms of amount wagered since essentially all major sports shut down as the pandemic took hold in mid-March. READ MORE HERE
Given that baseball is one of the few sports going at the moment (with apologies to soccer, and the "MLS is Back Tournament" in Orlando), the gambit of baseball games opened the floodgates of money and opinion. A whopping 15 major league games were played on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday.
Today (Monday) includes 12 more games on the slate.
And therein lies the problem.
The worst of times might be ahead.
The Miami Marlins, fresh of winning 2 out of 3 games from the Philadelphia Phillies made a startling announcement that 14 players and staff has tested positive for COVID. The immediately set into motion a frenzy of speculation about what might happen elsewhere. Two games that were scheduled today were cancelled as a precaution, including what was expected to be the Marlins' home opener in Miami. Florida, and Miami-Dade County, has been hist particularly hard in recent weeks.
What does this all mean?
Well, we will see when it comes to the Marlins and the four teams immediately effected by today's cancellations. What could be at stake here is the remainder of the 2020 regular season. Baseball, as we know it and as we hoped it would be, could be headed for a devastating blow – outright cancellation of the remainder of games.
If that happens, look for other pro and college sports to consider following suit. This could be just the beginning of the worst of times, especially for sports bettors.
Let's remain hopeful and maintain a positive outlook. Yet, we also must prepare ourselves for what could be the worst – no pro sports in North America for the foreseeable future.
Indeed, Charles Dickens was way ahead of his time.