I remember many of the sordid details like it was yesterday.
It was 1982 and the Montreal Expos’ Steve Rogers was on a roll.
Even though he took the mound on an early April afternoon at odds of -320, my buddy, we called him “The Big O” bought the enormous number and plopped down $640 to make a paltry $200.
Rogers was brilliant back then, in fact he’d go 19-8 that season with a 2.40 ERA, and all the Expos needed was to beat the Pirates at home and he’d make a nifty two hundred.
For a young college kid that was a bundle.
Well, the Pirates scored a run in the top of the ninth to post a 4-3 victory to break The Big O’s heart.
Instead of licking his wounds, The Big O did what the rest of usually can’t resist.
He decided to chase.
He zeroed in the high-flying Boston Bruins playing a first-round playoff series against the Quebec Nordiques. But, because the Bruins were such a heavy favorite he decided to give 1½ goals.
His logic: Boston would lead late and they’d surely cover the spread an empty netter.
The planned worked till perfection – for a bit – as Boston led 4-3 in the third period. The Nordiques then pulled their goalie and we watched The Big O flop on the floor for a grueling 90 seconds while the Bruins continually peppered shots wide of the empty net.
The B’s won 4-3 and The Big O lost over a thousand that day.
I don’t think he ever bet again.
The haunting tune that played in the background was my other buddy telling him all day long that they were both bad bets.
“Never play a heavily favored pitcher. It’s not worth it,” he said. “Never give a goal and a half in a hockey. It’s suicide.”
He was right.
But are they really bad bets?
Here are four wagers that we can agree are just a waste of money:
Backing Dale Earnhardt Jr.:
Dale Earnhardt Jr. winless streak is up to 139 but he was still at 9/1 co-favorite Sunday. By those odds he should win one of every 10 races, not once every few years.
Backing Tiger Woods:
No golfer ever won with the regularity of the former Mr. Elin Nordegren but ever since the sex scandal Tiger has just one win. Still, Tiger Woods goes off as among the top choices week in and week out.
He’s won just one of the last 30 PGA tour events he’s participated in but oddsmakers have him at 20/1 this weekend at the Players Championship and 12/1 at the U.S. Open. For those of you wondering, 12/1 equals about a 7.5 percent chance Tiger wins the U.S. Open. In reality, if you look at the way he’s played since coming back from the sex rehab, he’s more like a 3.2 percent chance of him winning.
Betting the favorite at the Kentucky Derby:
Betting the Kentucky Derby favorite used to be like playing the National League in the All-Star Game. After Spectacular Bid won the 1979 Derby no favorite won the race for the next 21 years when Fusaichi Pegasus won. No wonder why Union Rags stunk on Saturday.
Betting the puckline in hockey:
And for The Big O, well he’d be taking a beating giving 1½ goals in the NHL Playoffs this year. In the 48 games in the first round, 33 were decided by one goal. And his theory of betting the home team while giving 1½ goals went just 9-39 in the opening round.
Did we miss an obvious one? Let us know some of what you think is the worst value wager in sports betting.