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Sports Saturday

These wagers are trending

Take the Cubs on home Fridays (not Sundays), whoever is hosting the Fire and the Sky when the WNBA returns to action in mid-August.

Since the 2016 season through the recent All-Star break, when the Cubs played at home, their most profitable day was Friday, with a return of more than 14 units.
Charles Rex Arbogast/AP

LAS VEGAS — Sportsbook chatter sent me to Ralph Michaels, the WagerTalk statistical guru whose Cleveland database is bottomless.

The Cubs are horrible at home on Fridays, went the line. Bet the visitors at Wrigley Field on a Friday. Typical sportsbook hooey.

In fact, since 2016 through the recent All-Star break, the Cubs’ most profitable home day has been Friday, with a return of more than 14 units.

On average, they’ve been a -167 favorite (risk $167 to win $100) on Fridays, so that somewhat skews a fantastic 47-22 record. On July 23 at Wrigley, the Cubs (at about -130) beat the Diamondbacks 8-3. Make that 48-22.

Home Sundays have dropped about 16 units for their supporters. And playing Cubs home games Under on Tuesdays, Fridays and Sundays has returned an exceptional 45 units.

Blind wagers on Under, with an average total of about 8½ in every home game since ’16, have earned more than 31 units.

Safe investment

Betting on the home team plus half a goal in Fire away matches improved to 16-0, stretching to last season, in the 5-1 thrashing the Fire sustained at Nashville.

At $100 a unit, that translates to $671.47 in profit, or a 42% return on investment. The objectives of this wager are minimal sweat and maximum protection.

Soccer’s typical three-way offerings — on either Team A, Team B or Draw — are diabolical, the devil’s workshop. Securing two of those three options, on a home side, is a pure insurance play.

It can be pricey, as exhibited by the -505 figure on Nashville. For $100, it delivered a profit of $19.80. Still, a 20% ROI in just a few hours is a solid investment tack, better than any yearly municipal-bond return over the last quarter century, according to the Bloomberg Barclays Municipal Bond Index.

It pads the bankroll.

Sunday, the Fire visits Philadelphia, which is -400 ($100 to win $25) at plus a half-goal offshore at Pinnacle.

In the MLS regular season, the Union is 8-2-2 lifetime at home against Chicago, with a 24-16 goals advantage. So a play Over 2½ also makes sense, especially since the last six Fire matches have sailed over that figure.

Stanislav Ivanov, 22-year-old Bulgarian winger, is active for the Fire, but I don’t expect fireworks even when he’s in form. For Levski Sofia in Bulgaria’s First League, he scored only 12 times in 75 games.

A surgeon’s touch

Three years ago, Texas handicapper Paul Stone hammered Europe, at +130, to defeat the U.S. in the Ryder Cup at Le Golf National in France. He placed further wagers on the Euros at enviable plus prices. They delivered, 17½-10½.

It will be different in late September, he believes, at Whistling Straits in Wisconsin.

The U.S. — which was -170 two weeks ago at FanDuel — was a -155 favorite Monday at Station Casinos. The Euros were +150, Draw +850. The last draw was 15 events ago, at The Belfry in Warwickshire in 1989.

Euros have won nine of the last 12 editions. Moreover, non-Americans have fared well at the links-style Whistling Straits in three previous PGA Championships.

Those trends, plus my disharmony concerns about the U.S., led me to getting a stelar dog price on the Euros. The never-ending Brooks Koepka-Bryson DeChambeau soap opera is comical, and dislike for Patrick Reed is widespread.

“I’m sure DeChambeau and Koepka won’t be paired together,” Stone says, “so that slightly limits [coach] Steve Stricker’s options. There’s also been talk of some players not wanting to be paired with Patrick Reed.

“But there are plenty of other possible pairings, and I view them pretty much as non-issues. Is it ideal? Certainly not. But these guys are professionals, and I believe they’ll be fully prepared to represent their country regardless of their teammates.”

Stone’s approach to Whistling Straits exhibits a professional’s surgical betting philosophy. He was hoping for something in the -130 to -135 range on the U.S., no worse than -140. At current prices, he will spectate.

“As much as I enjoy the Ryder Cup as a sporting and betting event, I’ll likely be on the sideline if the price doesn’t come down a little. As a bettor in this type of market, you have to have a price range, and -170 is outside my comfort zone.

“At that price, the U.S. has to win 63% of the time just to break even. I think [Europe] probably has better than a 37% chance of prevailing.”

Sky not falling

The WNBA returns in mid-August, and New Jersey handicapper John Ryan is bullish on the Sky.

The Sky, in second in the East at 10-10, has dealt with injuries and inconsistencies and must cut down on turnovers, which Ryan expects to be fixed during the break. The Sky is about +800 (risk $100 to win $800) to claim the title, which Ryan likes for “pizza money.”

Candace Parker is one of five Sky players who average double-digit points, at 13.3. Courtney Vandersloot’s averages of 9.1 assists and 2.1 steals lead the league.

“The Sky has the talent and coaching to win the championship,” Ryan says. “With the veteran leadership and the time off to make the necessary changes, the Sky have the potential to take down the juggernaut Las Vegas Aces and Seattle Storm.”