“The Empire Slate” is a weekly look at betting angles and trends involving New York sports.
Mets owner Steven Cohen has had discussions with various casino operators about building a Las Vegas-style casino next to Citi Field. I asked one informed source on Wednesday whether Cohen’s plan seems feasible as the New York State Gaming Commission moves forward with plans to review bids for downstate casino sites in the coming months:
Best line I heard today at the #SBCSummit came from a source after I asked if he thought the Mets might land one of the downstate casino licenses next to Citi Field. “Yeah, but it’s the Mets, so you can’t trust the standings in July.”
— Mark Saxon (@markasaxon) July 13, 2022
Even with his tongue-in-cheek caveat, the Mets’ plan has plenty of advantages over other proposals. It’s in New York City, for one thing, which would please Mayor Eric Adams, who will have some say in the process.
It also wouldn’t face the same political resistance as plans in Long Island or Manhattan might. The location already is well-served by public transportation, unlike some other proposals, such as the South Bronx idea floated by Assemblywoman Amanda Septimo. She would love to see a ferry terminal added to the project she envisions in the Hunts Point neighborhood.
If there’s one major drawback to Cohen’s idea, it’s the proximity to the Resorts World property at Aqueduct racetrack. Resorts World is widely considered one of the two locks — along with the MGM property in Yonkers — to land one of the three downstate licenses. Citi Field is just 7.5 miles from Aqueduct, with both located in Queens.
But as any New Yorker who’s been stuck on the Van Wyck Expressway day or night can attest, that’s a long 7.5 miles.
Alonso set for Derby
Pete Alonso was one of the first MLB players to announce he will participate in Monday’s Home Run Derby at Dodger Stadium.
Of course he will.
Until he reached arbitration and agreed to a $7.4 million salary going into this season, Alonso had made more money via the $1 million prize money for each of his two Derby wins — in 2019 and 2021 — than he had by playing baseball on a near-daily basis for the Mets. Before March, Alonso’s career earnings totaled about $1.9 million.
Anyone who watched Alonso take down Trey Mancini in the final last year while launching 74 long balls over a crazy night at Coors Field knows how seriously he takes it.
It’s also smart to realize just how much variability there is in the event. For one thing, somebody like Kyle Schwarber or Ronald Acuña Jr. could just get red hot or Alonso’s chosen pitcher could simply have a hard time grooving pitches. Also, Dodger Stadium is one of the hardest stadiums in which to homer, quite unlike Colorado. What effect will that have on his confidence?
Alonso was +550 to win it last year and far from the top choice. Taking him at short odds this year seems like a potential sucker bet. Mancini went into last year as the longest shot in the field at +1000 and made the finals. Remember how silly this endeavor is. We’re basically betting on how well a hitter will do in a few batting practice sessions.
Sportsbooks won’t release the odds for the Derby until all eight participants are announced Thursday night, but there is good news. You can bet on the Derby at the New York mobile sportsbooks, which in other ways have far more restrictive menus than their New Jersey counterparts.
deGrom deBut approaching
Give the Mets credit for holding the line after nearly blowing a massive division lead in a short amount of time. After the Braves made up eight games from June 2 to July 2, the Mets have held their 2.5-game lead in the NL East since then.
Now, they’re sitting pretty to defend their lead, with ace Jacob deGrom scheduled to make his third rehab start for Triple-A Syracuse Thursday night after absolutely dominating in his first two rehab starts (11 strikeouts in 4 ⅔ innings). Speculation has been that deGrom could fold into the Mets’ rotation after Thursday’s outing, meaning he could be back right after the All-Star break.
The Mets are in for a battle, mostly because that is an excellent Braves team, but remember there are three wild card teams this year and the Mets have a nine-game lead for the final wild card spot at the moment. Yes, their fans are always looking for disaster around any corner, but with deGrom and Max Scherzer set to make up 40% of the team’s rotation, presuming they stay healthy, this team should be fine.
The sportsbooks still seem confident. The Mets have shorter World Series odds than the Braves at all nine licensed books in New York. Their best odds (+750) are offered at DraftKings, while the Braves are +850 across the board.
Severino injury could prove costly
One of the reasons for the Yankees’ charmed first half is that the Bombers have been one of the few teams in MLB not to sustain a single major injury to their starting rotation. Gerrit Cole, Jordan Montgomery, Nestor Cortes Jr., Jameson Taillon, and Luis Severino have started 84 of the Yankees’ 88 games.
But Severino left Wednesday’s start after giving up three home runs to the Cincinnati Reds while showing a fastball that was down a couple of ticks from his usual upper-90s velocity. Severino was scheduled for an MRI Thursday on his right shoulder.
Losing Severino for a big chunk of time might send Yanks GM Brian Cashman to the trade market, as one internal replacement candidate, Luis Gil, is out for the season after undergoing Tommy John surgery. It’s hard to know if the Yankees have faith plugging lefty JP Sears into their rotation permanently. He was optioned to Triple-A after picking up for Severino in the third inning Wednesday and pitching well enough into the sixth before the Yankees rallied to win.
Despite the Yankees’ excellent play this season, this might be a good time for bettors to stand back and watch going into the All-Star break, as the Yanks are under .500 in their last nine games.
Rangers center on Trocheck
The Rangers’ biggest roster move this off-season has been to sign Vincent Trocheck to a seven-year, $39.35 million deal to serve as their second-line center. The team reportedly preferred Trocheck to other options such as Andrew Copp and Ryan Strome.
Have the Rangers had a productive off-season as they look to build on their recent Eastern Conference finals appearance? You wouldn’t know it from the futures markets. They opened as the +2000 No. 9 Stanley Cup choice and that’s exactly where they remain today.