While the Cleveland Browns surprised the football world by selecting Baker Mayfield with the top pick in the NFL draft Thursday night, it was new Giants general manager Dave Gettleman who changed the financial fortune of Las Vegas sportsbooks by taking Penn State running back Saquon Barkley at No. 2.
“I thought there was no way a team with a 37-year-old quarterback (Eli Manning) would be dumb enough to draft a running back,” Ed Salmons, the Westgate Las Vegas Superbook’s head football oddsmaker, told ESPN. “I don’t understand why these guys do what they do. I guess that’s why they get fired all the time.”
“Next year, we will probably do fewer unless things are opened up for us,” Salmons said, who cited a 350 percent betting handle increase at his sportsbook.
Nevada sportsbooks could not offer long shot odds for a large group of players to be chosen with the top overall pick. Specifically, offshore markets offered 10-to-1 odds on Mayfield but that also allows a sportsbook to offset that high payout with all the losing tickets for every other player and still guarantee a hold percentage.
The other proposition bets that sealed a financial loser in Nevada were over 1.5 running backs drafted in the first round; three were taken. Also, Washington’s Vita Vea was selected ahead of Marcus Davenport of UT-San Antonio, as the betting steam suggested.
“I needed to get my feeling back,” Ozuna said. “This made feel a lot better.”
Jedd Gyorko added a two-run homer for St. Louis, which has won nine of 11.
Ozuna had just one hit in his previous 24 at-bats prior to a bases-loaded single to cap a three-run third inning that put the Cardinals in front to stay 3-1. Acquired from the Marlins on Dec. 14 for four prospects, the outfielder had struck out 23 times in his previous 20 games. He finished 1 for 4.
“I’m going to keep using it,” Ozuna said of the red bat. “I felt so much better at the plate today.”
Martinez was glad to share the wealth.
“He’s trying to get out of a slump and he’s just trying to go well,” Martinez. “You’re always good to new teammates. I’m just so happy for him. Good at bats. That’s going to help us a lot.”
Ozuna and Martinez actually shared the bat during the game.
“I just took it from the bat boy — and said `let’s go,” Martinez said.
St. Louis manager Mike Matheny was happy to see his slugger break loose.