Those making sports picks could annually pick up easy profits following a simple mechanism. Whatever the betting odds were, play against a team traveling three time zones.
Whenever the schedules come out, the first thing the front office, manager and coaches do is look at where they are playing and what kind of travel plans are they going to have to make and what will be the most difficult stretches of the season.
It has always been a fact that those from the East hated to travel West and make the three hour adjustment before returning home and starting the process in reverse. Obviously the same aspects were true for those from the Left Coast heading East before going home.
But schedules these days are done by computers compared to a group of individuals to prevent extensive travel and feed in as many off days as possible over the 26-week season. Thus some of the edges have been skimmed.
Changes were made again this year to have all clubs play primarily division games the first five weeks, thus there are teams which have not even made the trip cross country.
With each team having 90 to 95 games remaining on the schedule, here are the early results from our study.
Western Teams Having Moderate Success out East
When all teams have lost time in whatever direction they have flown, the schedule-maker has given them one a day off once they reached destination on all but one of 13 occasions. Conversely, when they are going to gain three hours, only twice on 16 different situations has there been a day of rest.
Teams from the Western Divisions are 5-3 in their first contest out east, picking up +2.82 units. What was surprising about these results is that though the sample size is small, the underdog has been victorious in three of the four contests.
When these same teams have returned back home they are 5-4, at -0.70 units. The negative number was caused by Oakland losing at home with Sonny Gray at -190 to Texas and San Francisco falling 1-0 to Arizona with -155 MLB odds with Madison Bumgarner.
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East Teams not Fairing as Well Going or Coming
Clubs from Michigan and further east have made fewer trips to this point but will eventually make more in the coming months.
For starters they are 3-4 and at -1.10. What we have learned thus far is these clubs have done a better job when in the role of favorites compared to underdogs, leaving them 3-1. In each instance, they have played after being home the day before, though to this point the damage has been minimal.
Once these teams have finished the western swing and headed back east, they are 2-3 and dropped -1.25 units. No real sterling conclusions are to be ascertained, however, there is on caveat that changes the outlook of the East to West to East travelers and it is the Pittsburgh Pirates.
The Pirates Alter the Dynamics
No team has been as heavily involved in traveling as Pittsburgh this season. The Pirates have left home twice and ended up in Arizona and in San Diego and neither time came back home to the Pacific Time Zone, oddly finishing those two road trips in St. Louis and Atlanta respectively.
Nonetheless, when a team is in a groove they could fly to China and the Bucs have won the first game in both western cities and when they flew three time zones to play the Braves, they took them down also.
Take away their three victories, all as favorites and the Eastern team pictures looks very different at 2-7, -5.35 units.
In conclusion, as stated, these numbers are rather sparse, but many more opportunities lay ahead and it is worth following to see it we have norms where these teams scuffle when arriving after long flights.
We will have an update of this article later in the season, but indications are the Western clubs will have success and the Eastern squads outside of the Pirates could suffer.