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EA Sports Tells All on Dallas Cowboys, Vegas Betting Lines

Column by Bo Light
Associate Sports Editor

Our misinformation campaign continues this week with the promised installment of "Inquiring Minds," in which we explain Vegas betting lines, or at least try to explain them. Read and be enlightened, but be warned: we are not responsible for the actions of anyone who takes advice from this column.

NFL Report

Unless you live in a cave, you probably know by now that the Dallas Cowboys signed free agent cornerback Deion Sanders, officially making them better than any two teams in the league. The Jerry Jones Juggernaut gave Deion $12 million up front, leaving a lot of teams wondering how to compete with Dallas' marketing power. We wonder how other teams will keep up, too. One possible solution is to put a leash on Jones, who is blatantly defying NFL marketing regulations by signing huge advertising contracts with Nike and Pepsi (the league has a contract with Coca-Cola). Jones claims that the league can make more money by allowing the teams to market themselves, and thus what he is doing is good for football. However, until the league actually does allow each team to handle its own marketing, and incorporates better revenue-sharing procedures, what Jones is doing is creating an all-star team that no one can hope to beat, and lining his own pockets in the process. Wake up, Jerry. Your backroom dealings may be good for your own team, but they make the rest of the NFL more or less irrelevant, and that is bad for football.

Hoops Update

Mark this date on your calendars, folks: September 12, 1995. This is the date when common sense finally prevailed in the NBA. On Tuesday, the players' union voted overwhelmingly against decertification, and with the union intact and the owners' lockout ending, the way is clear for the season to begin on time. There's still not much else happening around the league, though, so the basketball section is still pretty small. Fear not, loyal readers, when the new season starts, EA Sports will be there to cover it.

The Batter's Box

Remember up in the NFL section, when we said Deion Sanders was about to make the Cowboys a superteam? Well, maybe it won't happen right away. Prime Time got bonked on the elbow by an Allen Watson pitch during a game against the Cardinals (the St. Louis Cardinals, not the Arizona Cardinals) and is listed as day-to-day. As far as Deion's football status goes, well, it's kind of hard to make interceptions when your elbow is bigger than the ball... Don't get those playoff tickets just yet, Sox fans; in case you haven't noticed, Boston's magic number for clinching the AL East hasn't changed in a week, and the Yankees are threatening to pull within ten games of first place. Yes, yes, it's still a ten-game lead, and the odds of the Sux - sorry, the Sox - falling out of the playoffs are fairly slim, but a late-season tailspin does not bode well for a team that went 20-2 during one stretch last month. If the Red Sox can't turn it around soon, the Yankees might actually have a better shot at the World Series, and nobody wants that... Over in the NL West, Colorado and Los Angeles continue to make the only pennant race in the league exciting; at last check, the Rockies had moved back into first place, a game ahead of the Dodgers. Since neither team seems likely to collapse at this point, the second-place team in the West will probably take the wild-card spot, which means that Colorado will make the playoffs in its third season of existence.

In our second installment of "Inquiring Minds," our crack analysts attempt to explain Las Vegas betting lines, which are regularly included in newspapers for baseball, basketball, football, and even hockey. We'll start with football and basketball, since they are the easiest to explain. Most lines list a favorite, a spread, and an underdog. The favorite and the underdog are, obviously, the teams involved in the game. The spread is how many more points the favored team is expected to score than the underdog. Many of the spreads include half-points; this is to prevent ties, which can lead to some ugly arguments when money is involved. However, whenever half- points are not present, the bettor loses a tie.

An example: say Michigan is favored by 6 1/2 points against Boston College this weekend. If you were to bet on BC, you would not necessarily be betting that they would win, but that they would lose by less than 6 1/2 points. After the game, simply add 6 1/2 points to BC's score; if this gives them more points than Michigan, you win the bet. A person betting on Michigan would win their bet if the Wolverines won by seven points or more.

Some football games (usually NFL games) also include an over/under score, which is the total number of points expected to be scored in the game. The over/under line also usually includes half-points. For example, if the over/under line for the New England - San Francisco game is 41 1/2 points, a person betting on the over would win if the two teams combined to score 42 or more points.

Last is baseball. Baseball lines don't have spreads, but are based on the odds that a favored team will win a game. The lines are usually listed in the day's pitching matchups, and the odds are printed next to the favored team. A typical line might look like this: Boston 6-7 New York This means that Boston is favored to win, and their odds are 6-7. These numbers don't always have a lot to do with how likely the team is to win; rather, they are the suggested payoff on a winning bet. The line 6-7 is read "six for seven" - it means that for every $7 you bet on the Sox, you would get $6 in payoff (as well as your original stake back) if Boston won. For the underdog, the line is exactly the opposite; for every $6 bet on the Yankees, you would receive $7 if they won.

Trivia Question

CFL quarterback and Boston College legend Doug Flutie is out for the season after elbow surgery last week. Doug played briefly in the NFL; where did he play? Send answers, along with comments and copies of David Hasslehoff's latest album, to easports@the-tech. Winners, as usual, get nothing.

Answer to last week's question: Sachio Kinusaga played 2,215 consecutive games for the Hiroshima Toyo Carp from 1970 to 1987. Congratulations to James J. Shin G and Stanley L. Liauw '97, who provided the correct answers.