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Books cashing Diamonds

Football may have taken center stage over the weekend, relegating baseball to its inevitable position of being second banana once again -- even though its best drama has yet to happen, but during the month of August bettors proved that they still love betting baseball. A few Las Vegas sports books reported their baseball handle was up over the same month in 2011.

The strangest thing about the books being up in handle is that the win percentages were up as well. Last August was an awful month of baseball for the books when we saw a few key teams like the Brewers, Phillies, Red Sox, Rangers and Yankees win almost every day. When bettors are winning regularly, they always up their wager and bet more often which increases handle in a churning process.

With the same amount of weekends as last August and not many popular teams on hot streaks, the handle has still risen. Maybe it’s a sign of the times that people have money to spend again. The first weekend of college football exemplified that point great with larger handle than the same weekend last year.

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The teams on the hot streaks heading into August have been teams that aren’t very popular with the public. The Oakland A’s keep winning -- a nine-game win streak through Sunday, but bettors haven’t warmed up to them yet feeling that their streak will end soon. Same goes for the San Diego Padres, who had won 10 of 11 games heading into Saturday. The common bettor is skeptical of teams like the Padres who have been perennial losers playing in home park their hitters reportedly hate to hit in.

Teams the public love to bet on like the Yankees have lost eight of their last 12 and are in danger of not even making the playoffs if their pitching doesn’t get better. And now, a staple in the Yankees arsenal -- hitting, has even become a problem. Public favorites from the past like the Red Sox and Phillies are in much worse shape and have been written off by most bettors in daily wagers. But the bettors are still firing away.

Overall, it’s been a good baseball season for the sports books, which is never an expectant. The goal for most sports book directors is to get by June, July and August with as little damage in baseball as possible as they await the massive audience of the football nation, which is always a proven winner in the fall months.

Outside of the Astros and Cubs, the rest of the teams have made things difficult by going in hot and cold streaks throughout the year, but never gaining any real steam or momentum like we saw last season. We’ll see how September goes, but chances are it will be much of the same parity we’ve seen the last few months.

Rich Get Richer

Maybe it’s great scouting or just being lucky, but the Braves always seem to find themselves with some of the best young pitchers in baseball. Kris Medlen had pitched long relief in 38 games for the Braves this season and was part of one of the best bullpens in baseball. When injuries were mounting with the starting staff, they gave him a shot and now he’s running away with the opportunity.

The Braves have won all six of his starts with Medlen getting the win in five of the games, but the most impressive thing is how he is getting it done. He’s been dominant and has shown pinpoint control with only five walks against 38 strikeouts. Through Sunday’s games, he has allowed only three runs in his six starts. That’s one run allowed in each in his first three starts and no runs allowed in his last three. He starts at home on Monday against the Rockies and then on the road versus the Mets this weekend.

  
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