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When’s the last time the Yankees were such big underdogs?

Oct 16, 2012, 12:16 PM EDT


Justin Verlander and the Tigers are -180 favorites against the Yankees tonight, which means someone betting on Detroit would have to risk $180 to win $100 and for that bet to be profitable the Tigers would have to win 65 percent of the time.

That got me thinking about the last time the Yankees were such heavy underdogs, so I put out the bat-signal for my favorite gambling-related tweeter, Jacob Wheatley-Schaller from Vegas Watch, and he came through with the info.

There were a few times this season when the Yankees were fairly close to -180 underdogs, including a pair of matchups against Verlander and the Tigers, but they haven’t been -180 or higher underdogs this whole year.

So when was the last time the Yankees were bigger than -180 underdogs?

The final game of the 2011 season, against David Price and the Rays, when the Yankees had the division title wrapped up and started rookie Dellin Betances in one of those “Johnny Wholestaff” games. Tampa Bay was a -220 favorite needing a win to get into the playoffs, 11 different pitchers appeared in the game for New York, and the Rays won 8-7 in 12 innings.

Also known as “The Dan Johnson Game.”

Obviously tonight is basically the opposite circumstances, but it does show just how rare it is for the Yankees to be huge underdogs even for a single game.

  1. number42is1 - Oct 16, 2012 at 12:29 PM

    I never got the idea behind underdog

    • dlf9 - Oct 16, 2012 at 1:01 PM

      Shoeshine Boy with the secret power pill hidden in his ring? DogDude was PEDs before Victor Conte was out of middle school.

      But Sweet Polly Purebread, now there was a poodle worth barking for.

      • Old Gator - Oct 16, 2012 at 3:14 PM

        Down here in Macondo, dumb looking dogs like that are known as “python fodder.”

  2. willclarkgameface - Oct 16, 2012 at 12:30 PM

    From 1982 until 1995.

    And then it’s been all Yankees ever since (minus a few no-shows in the postseason…but only like…two).

  3. vallewho - Oct 16, 2012 at 12:32 PM


  4. natstowngreg - Oct 16, 2012 at 12:52 PM

    Headline on the playoff stories on the sports page of this morning’s Washington Post: “Sunset in the Bronx.” Part of the (dare I say it) media narrative of an aging, crumbling Yankees team. To be compared with the 1964 and 1981 World Series losers. Several other pieces fit into this narrative: notably, the overpaid, useless A-Rod; and the aging, injured Indispensable Man, Derek Jeter.

  5. Lukehart80 - Oct 16, 2012 at 12:53 PM

    Gambling aside, the Yankees are not underdogs. They won’t be underdogs tomorrow either. They won’t be underdogs next year, or the year after that, or any time in the foreseeable future.

    The Yankees haven’t been true underdogs since Yorktown in 1781.

  6. drunkenhooliganism - Oct 16, 2012 at 1:20 PM

    The last time they were big favorites in a meaningful game was probably when they had AJ Burnett going against Cliff Lee in the 2009 World Series. I don’t know how to look up old odds, but the Yanks had to be at least +200.

    The Phillies did win that game, but the Yanks won the series.

  7. Jeremy Fox - Oct 16, 2012 at 1:23 PM

    Just for comparison, Detroit was 21-12 in the regular season when Verlander started. That’s a .636 winning percentage. So if you bet on Detroit at these odds, you basically think they’re slightly more likely to beat the Yankees than they would be to beat an average team.

    • Jeremy Fox - Oct 16, 2012 at 2:03 PM

      Just to clarify, I’m not saying that would be a bad bet or a good bet. Depends on whether you think the Yankees current collective slump is going to last, or is a blip they could break out of any time. It’s just another way to illustrate just how unusual it is for the Yankees to be such big underdogs.

      • Roger Moore - Oct 16, 2012 at 2:32 PM

        There’s more to factor in, too. It’s in Detroit, and most teams do worse on the road than they do at home. You have to look at the Yankees’ starter as well as the Tigers’, and Phil Hughes is clearly worse than the average Yankees’ starter (4.23 ERA vs. 4.05 team average for starters), and that counts against them. And, of course, they’re going to have to play Nunez or Nix instead of Jeter, which is going to hurt them.

        I still suspect that the big thing that’s moving the betting line is that so many of the Yankees’ best hitters have been slumping in the playoffs. But there’s plenty of other reasons to bet against them.

      • Jeremy Fox - Oct 16, 2012 at 2:45 PM

        Yes, absolutely.

  8. pisano - Oct 16, 2012 at 1:26 PM

    This is the most anemic, strike out prone Yankee playoff team I’ve ever seen, I hate to say it, but I don’t see anything good happening for the Yankees.

  9. willclarkgameface - Oct 16, 2012 at 1:37 PM

    The 2012 New York Yankees scored 42% of their runs on the home run. You tell me why they are in the toilet right now.

    • Jeremy Fox - Oct 16, 2012 at 2:00 PM

      The 2012 Yankees scored 804 runs, second in the AL. You tell me why they are still playing when every other AL team but the Tigers is sitting at home.

      The 2012 Yankees hit 245 home runs, most in the AL. You score a high percentage of your runs on home runs WHEN YOU HIT A LOT OF HOME RUNS. And hitting a lot of home runs is a GOOD thing.

      Historically, teams that are MORE reliant on the home run do BETTER in the postseason. Of the 132 wild card era playoff teams, the half that were most reliant on the home run (as measured by percentage of runs scored via homers) saw the scoring drop 18% in the playoffs compared to the regular season. The half that were least reliant on the home run saw their scoring drop 27%. And the more homer-reliant teams outscored the less homer-reliant teams by 17% in postseason play. Here’s the link:

      Yes, the Yankees have hit poorly in the playoffs. But that’s not because they are too reliant on the home run.

    • pisano - Oct 16, 2012 at 6:12 PM

      will….. I wished I could tell you and Joe, but one thing for sure, it’s not their pitching. I can’t figure out how they just can’t score runs by anything but the HR. It seems if they don’t hit a HR they can’t score. I just don’t see them coming back from this funk, and believe me I want to be proven wrong.

  10. Brian Donohue - Oct 16, 2012 at 3:57 PM

    They’ve actually got a lot going for them tonight:

    1. We’ve all seen it before: slumping teams come out of it — where? — on the road, of course.
    2. Low expectations without, intensity within. Good combination: ask the football team from NY/NJ about their recent visit to SF, where they were supposed to fail miserably.
    3. Hughes threw a pretty amazing game against a tough lineup last time out, and tonight he has the benefit of a larger ballpark.
    4. Gardner or some other lightning-in-a-bottle type could ignite.
    5. Detroit and Verlander know this: if we falter here, oops there’s CC tomorrow and this won’t be so easy after all.

  11. weaselpuppy - Oct 16, 2012 at 9:01 PM

    The Tigers have hit CC just fine…..

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