Discover more from MutStack
Friday Four-Pack 5.19.23
Breaking Preakness news. Xander reunion. Free Fanatics' bets?
News came early Friday that First Mission, the second choice (5-2) on the Preakness morning line, would be scratched out of the race with an injury.
We’re now down to seven horses competing in the second leg of horse racing’s Triple Crown.
And I’m left having to try and pick a new winner of the race.
Some thoughts on what this means for betting the race - in audio form - to kickstart the Four-Pack.
More on the Preakness below.
What are you waiting for. It’s FREE! Subscribe now to receive new posts and support my work.
On a Xander/Red Sox reunion…
It’s a big weekend.
Taylor Swift at Gillette. Celtics/Heat games two and three in their best of seven series. The aforementioned Preakness in Baltimore. And a scheduled swift kick to the groin for Red Sox fans.
Sox are in San Diego for a meeting with the Padres and old friend Xander Bogaerts.
Bogaerts had a pretty good run with the Sox.
I’ll disagree with my buddy Brian Barrett on that last part. Tomorrow (this weekend) is not going to be weird. It should really just rekindle anger in you if you’re a Sox fan.
Much more anger than weird.
And look this is less about Xander leaving then the way the Sox dressed it up. For a year-plus they said over and over publicly they wanted Xander back. Team President and Spin Master Sam Kennedy called him “priority No. 1.” This was even after a 2022 spring training offer to Xander that was borderline embarrassing.
It was all pretend! It was spin! They knew he’d get better offers out there and tried to seemingly guilt him into taking a hometown deal.
On the season Red Sox shortstops … woof. Batting just .225 and slugging an abysmal .350.
Xander’s numbers are good not great - second on the Padres with 1.7 wins above replacement. His OPS is over .800. Six homeruns. Solid. But the Padres as a team are not living up to the hype at 20-24.
That should not matter to Sox fans - who were left essentially begging for the team to resign its other star in Rafael Devers. They did - but they could have signed both.
For his part Xander is not ducking from it.
“I talk to my guys there all the time, the players and coaches, almost every day,” he said. “That team will always be a part of me. But once I could meet with other teams, I saw what they thought of me. I really had no choice in the end.”
Translation - “What a shitty offer from the Sox.”
Lots to be excited for this weekend in sports. Red Sox fans seeing Xander in a Padres uniform probably not one of them.
On an interesting new sports betting promo…
That’s the chance I give Fanatics to pull off the sports betting promo they launched this week when they eventually go live here in Massachusetts.
We’ll get to that in a second.
April was another HUGE month for Massachusetts sports betting. From Bookies.com.
A total handle of $579,262,866.66 was generated from Massachusetts' three retail and six mobile sites in April. The month saw $11,799,200.04 collected by the state in taxes off $58,912,776.80 in revenue. The overall handle was up from March’s number of $548.102 million, which saw betting for only 22 days.
Fanatics of course is the sportswear company that bought the sportsbook brand PointsBet this week. They were not part of all that Massachusetts revenue because they won’t launch in state until later this month.
As of Thursday, users could gain access to Fanatics’ beta app in Ohio and Tennessee by purchasing anything from its site. Any hat, jersey, shirt, mug or otherwise will qualify here. Fanatics will then match whatever your purchase was up to $500 in bonus bets.
“We’ve done a tremendous amount of consumer work against this concept and it tested very well,” said Jason White, chief marketing officer of Fanatics Gaming and Betting. “We have a different acquisition model than the other guys, which allows us to reinvest in loyalty and reward our customers.”
Buy a jersey? Get a free bet.
Buy a hat? Here’s another free bet.
It seems like a good way to leverage product you already have and get people to test out your new sports betting platform. And they’ll need help.
The old PointsBet brand had just 1.6% of the total betting handle in New York. Here in Massachusetts, DraftKings and FanDuel combined for 83%!!!!!! of the mobile sports betting action last month. That’s insane. If you’re PointsBet, you’d be crazy not to try something like this.
I like the idea.
The Massachusetts Gaming Commission (MGC) will not.
This is the group that has picked on Barstool Sportsbook brand at every chance they could - from their application to the banning of the clearly sarcastic “Big Cat Can’t Lose Parlay.”
Just this week commissioner Eileen O’Brien battled passionately for the MGC to have Massachusetts become the first state in the country to require a “Must be 21 to bet” type of warning on public sports betting ads.
Of course it’s illegal for these sportsbooks to allow minors to bet - but now they want a warning message too. Okay.
The MGC is proving to be out to makes waves - to be FIRST with new regulations they hope will get them positive press across the country as sports betting expands on an almost monthly basis.
These same people who want credit for these groundbreaking regulations also dragged their feet on legalizing sports betting for years, costing the state millions and millions of dollars. Not to mention jobs. And tech. And a lot more.
There is nothing wrong with what Fanatics is doing here. Assuming they’re not allowing minors to bet it seems like a good deal to me.
Not everyone agrees.
Ohio regulators are already pushing back on the Fanatics promo. I doubt the MGC even lets Fanatics try and explain themselves before they issue a statement against the promo.
Yes, the people who cost the taxpayers millions by delaying sports betting now want to make every rule when it comes to how you - the sports bettor - try to have some fun and make some money along the way.
So if you’re hoping to pair a new Mike Gesicki jersey with free bet from Fanatics?
I wouldn’t bet on it in Massachusetts.
Toucher and Rich Toucher or Rich…
“That Toucher and Rich thing is fascinating .”
That was the text from a radio person outside Boston earlier in the week as Fred Toucher and Rich Shertenlieb were reunited on their own show after some decent drama and speculation on their future.
We picked thru it all last week - you can get caught up here.
And while it was fascinating to wonder if that drama was going to lead to massive fireworks on the show - maybe even the end of the show altogether - the return of both guys to their own studio was devoid of any real emotion whatsoever. Seriously.
The audio where they briefly addressed their tiff can be found here
The two said they were flattered by the attention their time away created amongst their fans on social media. Fred seemed to want to talk about the Boston Globe story - the one that suggested Rich accused Fred of creating a hostile work environment - but Rich sidestepped it quickly.
Soon it was back to poking fun at their flash guy. And that was pretty much it. Business as usual. Like nothing ever happened.
Kirk Minihane was first with all of the sordid details of the meeting last Friday on “The Kirk Minihane Show." Including a nugget that in that aforementioned meeting (first reported by Kirk), Rich actually put his wife on the phone to talk about the hostile work environment her husband’s co-worker had created.
No wonder Rich had no interest in talking about it.
Listened on and off this week and it sounds like the plan is for the show to pretend it all didn’t happen. Minihane also suggested Wednesday on his show that the contracts of Fred and Rich - along with WEEI’s morning guy Greg Hill - are all up soon. So there is good reason to make this work for everyone involved.
This week Audacy (parent company of WEEI) saw their stock delisted off the NYSE after trading at under a dollar for almost a year. As of market close on Thursday Beasley Media (parent company of 98.5 The Sports Hub) saw their stock trading at a robust $1.09. Radio is in a bad spot - Fred and Rich should be motivated to make it work and get a new deal. Which is probably preferable to both of them versus going out and doing their own thing given their current rocky relationship.
They COULD go out on their own (podcast, live shows, etc) and be successful… but you’d probably have to actually like the other guy to really go all-in on something like that.
Seems unlikely given the last few months.
As I’ve said from the start the money is just too good.
Would have made for awesome radio if the guys had it out on the air - maybe they still will? But for now it’s play nice and get a new deal.
On The Preakness Stakes and the Triple Crown…
With First Mission scratched - some of the discussion of the race is outdated - but I spent 40 minutes with Parx track announcer Jessica Paquette and veteran sports/turf writer and handicapper Dick Jerardi to talk Preakness and racing. It was a blast. If you’re subscribed here it hit your inbox last night.
You can watch the MutStack Preakness roundtable here -
Or you can listen to it in podcast form here -
One of the topics we hit on at the end is the “State of the Triple Crown.”
For the first time since at least 1969, only one Derby horse is wheeling back to run in the Preakness.
It has become less and less important to win this race, let alone run in it.
And since racing uses the Triple Crown as a way to bring new fans into the game, it’s not good.
Things change. And the Triple Crown schedule should too. My solution:
Kentucky Derby - First Saturday in May
Preakness Stakes - First Saturday in June
Belmont Stakes - First Saturday in July
Not an original idea from me, but one I fully endorse. If you make me the Horse Racing Commissioner, that’s one of my first moves.
Horses don’t run three times in five weeks any more. The breed has changed. Racing has changed. Change can be good.
In this case it’s good because you space out the races more. Give trainers more options. Horses would get more rest - a good thing.
You can also tie these races into the other 3-year-old summer staples like the Haskell and the Travers. Build a bonus structure where - say if you win the Preakness and the Travers - there’s a purse bonus built in. Make it worthwhile to run in these races that mean so much to the sport.
It’s also easy for the non-racing superfan to follow. First Saturdays in May, June and July. Big races. Simple.
And if you get a Triple Crown chance at the Belmont - now you’ll have a full month to promote it.
Former Nashua Telegraph sports editor Alan Greenwood used to refer to ‘CAVE’ people - Citizens. Against. Virtually. Everything. Those people make up a LARGE portion of racing. So there will likely be no changes at all for the foreseeable future.
And we’ll keep bemoaning the lack of Derby horses running in one of the most important races in America.
We’ll be back here tomorrow for final Preakness thoughts and maybe a quick reaction to Celtics/Heat Game 2.
In honor of Preakness Week - and the tremendous news that the living legend Tom Durkin will be calling the Belmont Stakes on Fox TV this year - here’s the “plucky” Afleet Alex winning the Preakness in 2005. Complete with Durkin’s great call.
Thanks for reading and listening.