Usually, $358.5 million goes a pretty long way—even in a place as overly pricey (and overly vain) as the greater Los Angeles area. But within the friendly confines of two stadiums affectionately known as the “Big A” and Chavez Ravine, all $358.5 million buys you is a heaping dose of underachievement. And despair. And mockery—lots and lots of mockery.
Forget about the porn actresses in Chatsworth and the Real Housewives in Orange County; the biggest busts in Southern California belong to the area’s two Major League Baseball teams, the Angels and Dodgers. (Geography clarification: Yes, the Padres are very much located in “Southern California,” but they’re exempt from this conversation—in part because most San Diegans prefer not to be lumped in with their snooty brothers to the north, in part because the Padres aren’t a complete embarrassment this year.)
Anyway, as the baseball season approaches the end of the first quarter, let’s see what the owners of the Dodgers and Angels—whose 2013 payrolls ring in at $216.3 million and $142.2 million, respectively—have received for their investment (all stats are through May 13):
• 29 wins and 46 losses, good for a .387 winning percentage.
• A combined 17½ games back of first place.
• A combined .243 batting average, five home runs and 26 RBIs from two superstar outfielders: the Dodgers’ Matt Kemp ($20.25 million salary) and the Angels’ Josh Hamilton ($17.4 million). (By way of comparison, the Orioles have gotten a .313 average, 11 homers and 37 RBIs from someone named Chris Davis, who is on the books for $3.3 million.)
• A combined 22 1/3 innings, exactly one win and two lengthy stays on the disabled list from two All-Star pitchers: the Dodgers’ Zack Greinke ($21 million) and the Angels’ Jered Weaver ($16.2 million).
What has all this meant from a gambling perspective? Well, let’s just say investing in a liquor store in Amish country would yield greater dividends than the 2013 Dodgers and Angels. According to Covers.com, the former ranks 28th in the 30-team league in terms of profitability; the latter ranks dead last. To put this in real-money terms, if you bet $100 on the Dodgers in their first 37 games and $100 on the Angels in their first 38 games, you’d be down $2,861.
That’s a huge chunk of change to be sure—that said, those who have been burned by the Dodgers and Angels in the first six weeks shouldn’t go rushing to the mailbox looking for a sympathy card from either club’s owners.
Damn (Surprising) Yankees: On the complete opposite end of the bang-for-your-buck spectrum are the Yankees. OK, so George Costanza’s former employer isn’t exactly living off food stamps—New York’s $229 million payroll is tops in baseball. However, half of the Yankees’ top eight highest-paid players—Alex Rodriguez, Mark Teixeira, Derek Jeter and Curtis Granderson, who account for $83.8 million of that payroll—contributed as much as you did through the team’s first 38 games. And yet as of May 13, the Yankees were 24-14, alone in first place in the American League East and one of just three teams at least 10 games over .500. They also stand alone atop the profitability standings, with a $100 Yankees backer clearing more than $1,000 (the only squad to net four figures).
Rounding out the top-five baseball moneymakers are the Cardinals (24-13, +$905), Orioles (23-15, +$854), Indians (21-16, +$828) and Pirates (21-17, +$794).
Money for Nothing: While the Dodgers and Angels are clearly the frontrunners for “Most Underachieving Team of the Year” honors, the Blue Jays are right on their heels. Toronto’s offseason spending spree has yielded a 15-24 record, which has put Blue Jays bettors in the hole to the tune of $1,010. The only other teams in the negative-four-digit category are the Marlins (-$1,067), Dodgers (-$1,347), Astros (-$1,470) and Angels (-$1,514).
Total Anomalies: While the Dodgers, Angels and Astros have been a huge money pit on the money line, they have padded the pockets of “over” bettors. The three clubs have combined for a 72-37-5 over/under record. The best “over” team, though, is a team usually associated with strong pitching: Of the Oakland Athletics’ first 40 games, 28 cleared the total.
Conversely, don’t look for much in the way of fireworks when the White Sox play—they’re 22-12-2 “under” the total, thanks to an offense that’s averaging just 3.4 runs per game (only the Marlins are worse). And somewhere in Vegas, former Sox slugger Frank Thomas winces.