There is a guy in Houston commonly known as “Mattress Mack”; he owns a chain of furniture stores, and over the past several years he has achieved sports notoriety for making very large wagers on various sporting events and using the wagers as a means to promote sales at his chain of furniture stores. His most recent “big bet” was earlier this year when he placed a series of bets totaling $10M taking the Astros to win the World Series. According to one report I read, he stands to win $73M if the Astros accomplish that feat.
Here is how he uses his bets to promote sales:
- Customers who buy a minimum amount of furniture/furnishings at his stores in a specified time frame will get their money back if his bet is cashed.
- So, if he loses his wager, there is some compensation due to increased sales at the stores. If he wins the wager, he benefits from the increased sales but must pay off customers from his winnings on the wager.
Even though I understand the “philosophy” behind this wager/promotion concept, I must admit that when I first read about his futures wager on the Astros to be World Champions in 2022, I was a bit shocked. I am not averse to gambling on sporting events; anyone who has read these rants for any time will surely recognize that. However, I am not interested in betting on baseball because baseball is further out on the spectrum than “unpredictable”; baseball is often “inscrutable”. Consider this year’s two National League Divisional Series matchups:
- The Phillies finished 14 games behind the Braves in the NL East and the Braves held an 11-8 advantage in head-to-head play. Naturally, the Phillies won the best-of-five game series by a 3-1 margin simply because the Phillies scored 7, 8, and 9 runs in their three victories. Scoring like that covers up incidental flaws such as “poor team defense” and a “shaky bullpen”.
- The Padres finished 22 games behind the Dodgers in the NL West and the Dodgers held a 14-5 advantage in head-to-head play this year. Naturally, the Padres won the best-of-five game series by a 3-1 margin simply because the Dodgers only found away to score a total of 7 runs in their three losses.
And serious MLB fans just shrug their shoulders at these results tossing them aside as being “just the way baseball is”. And they are right; that is “how baseball is” and that is why I do not consider baseball as an attractive wagering situation.
Then again, I am not the owner of a chain of furniture stores with a net worth of several hundred million dollars – – like “Mattress Mack”. Good luck to him on his wager. So far, the Astros have done their job for him ousting the Mariners 3 games to none in one of the American League Divisional Playoff rounds. The Astros will play the winner of the Yankees/Guardians series that will finish up today – – weather permitting.
Changing subjects … During the NFL off-season, there were 5 “major” QB moves in the league that have not even begun to bear fruit so far in 2022:
- Baker Mayfield: He became expendable when the Browns traded for Deshaun Watson and his contract was too much for the club to carry as a back-up/ fill-in for Watson. The Browns got a “conditional fifth-round pick” for Mayfield from the Panthers – – so he did not cost much. And that is about the best you can say about that QB acquisition because the Panthers’ offense has been miserable, and that unit basically got Coach Matt Rhule fired last week.
- Matt Ryan: He was a slightly more costly acquisition than Mayfield; Ryan cost the Colts a third-round pick in 2023. However, Ryan got off to a rocky start in Indy at best. His most notable stat through the first 5 games was that he had fumbled 11 times in those 5 games. At that pace, Ryan would fumble 37 times in a 17-game season and the season record for “fumbles by a QB” is only 23. The Colts have played 4 division games out of their first 6 games and have a 1-2-1 record in those games; acquiring Matt Ryan was supposed to allow the Colts to dominate their division…
- Mitchell Trubisky: He did not cost the Steelers any draft capital; he just cost them a 2-year deal worth less than $20M. Nevertheless, Trubisky was benched after only 4 games as the starter when the Steelers’ offense was effectively AWOL for those first 4 games. There are some reports that Trubisky and one of the Steelers’ WRs got into a shouting match at halftime of the game where Trubisky was benched. I have no idea if that happened but if Trubisky had a QB Rating of 120 and the Steelers’ offense was blowing folks out of the water, then that putative shouting match would not have happened.
- Carson Wentz: The Commanders paid a third-round pick in the 2022 draft and a conditional third-round pick in the 2023 draft to acquire Wentz. This is good news and bad news. The good news is that Wentz is the best QB the Commanders have had on the roster since Kirk Cousins left town and maybe for even longer than that. The bad news is that statement is damning by faint praise because the Commanders’ QB situation has been a hot mess for as long as 45 years now. Commanders’ fans will now get their wish and see Wentz on the sidelines as he just had surgery for a broken finger and will be out a while. Welcome back, Taylor Heinicke…
- Russell Wilson: He cost the Broncos a ton – – 3 NFL quality players, two first round picks and two second round picks. Through 6 games, the Broncos are 2-4 and they have only scored 91 points in those 6 games. [Aside: Only the Texans have scored fewer than 91 points.] Wilson looks confused and hesitant in his new environs and with his new offense. If that is simply an issue of his “learning curve” then things will be fine in Denver; if there is something else at work here, this could be very bad news for Broncos’ fans.
Finally, since today’s rant has been about the successes and the failures in trying to predict the future, let me close with this observation from the ancient Chinese philosopher, Lao Tzu:
“Those who have knowledge don’t predict; those who predict don’t have knowledge.”
But don’t get me wrong, I love sports………