If good news is a home run, then Philadelphia Phillies fans are already celebrating two dingers this week.

One is receiving word that tickets for the first 19 home games at Citizens Bank Park are going on sale starting March 12. The number of fans allowed at the ballpark will be a tad under 9,000 (8,800 to be exact).

The other is Philadelphia throttled the New York Yankees 15-0 in Thursday’s spring training game. And it was one that fans could bet.

Let’s take a closer look at each.

‘Take Me Out to the Ballgame’ returns

So does the chatter of “No Batter, No Batter,” “Let’s Get Two,” and the seventh-inning stretch.

At least when there are no doubleheaders.

Sure the opening day crowd is going to be much smaller, but some fans are better than no fans.

And the Phandemic Krew is ready.

The Phillies made the official announcement via press release after the City of Philadelphia loosened capacity limits to outdoor events to 20%.

Finalizing health and safety protocols

Phillies Executive Vice President David Buck said the team has been “diligently working with our city and state officials to finalize health and safety protocols at Citizens Bank Park.”

“With these important measures now in place, we are excited to safely welcome a limited number of our fans back to the ballpark experience,” said Buck. “The unmatched energy our fans bring to the game has undoubtedly been missed, and we can’t wait to hear their cheers once again come Opening Day.”

Season-ticket holders will be offered the first shot at the seats. The public can purchase tickets starting March 12 on the Phillies website.

There is something symbolic in that date.

March 12 is generally considered the day sports shut down last year because of the pandemic. Here we are one year later, call it a new year, in which selling seats to fans and bettors is an emotional winning ticket.

So is the fact that NJ online sportsbooks expect the entire season to occur.

Tickets for the remaining 62 games go on sale in early April. More fans may later be allowed if there are no pandemic-related concerns. According to the press release, the number of tickets sold for these games may increase or decrease as health conditions evolve.

More on Phillies + Citizens Bank Park plans

According to the release, the team said fans will be seated in pods of two, three and four people, with limited pods available for five to six people.

Fans ages 2 and older must wear a mask over their nose and mouth once on ballpark property, other than while eating or drinking at their seats.

The Phillies said the ballpark will be cleaned and disinfected before, during, and after games by a newly created “Clean Team.” using processes and products approved by the CDC and EPA.

Hand-sanitizing stations will be widely available throughout the ballpark.

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NJ sports betting in spring training mode

For fans, April 1 can’t come soon enough. The Phillies will open a three-game series against the Atlanta Braves followed by three more versus the New York Mets.

But as far as NJ sports betting goes, there is no need to wait. NJ online sportsbooks offer odds on spring training games. Thursday’s Phillies-Yankees game included.

After all, bettors need spring training, too. This is a chance to get those handicapping skills in regular-season shape.

The Phillies are fully underway with the exhibition season.  Odds for each game go up at DraftKings Sportsbook, often the night before or day of the contest.

And they are playable.

There are very few -200 lines on the favorite because there is no ace pitcher destined for a long outing.

The results are unique. Thursday, against the Yankees, Phillies starter Matt Moore went two innings for the win against the Yankees. Mickey Moniak homered twice and the team went deep six times.

Up next are the Pittsburgh Pirates, Toronto Blue Jays, and  Yankees on successive days.

 

Johnny Avello, the director of race and sportsbook operations for DraftKings, said there is action on spring training games.

“In the beginning, all you can put up are the moneylines. You can’t put up totals, but we may be doing that as we get close to the start of the regular season,” Avello told NJ Gambling Sites. “This year is unique because of the changes surrounding spring training.”

MLB betting season just warming up

The reality is, no matter how many innings are played, it’s a warm-up act for MLB betting season. And having fans back at Citizens Bank Park could become a wagering factor again.

Just not as much as when there is a sell-out crowd of over 43,000.

But here are a few things to start thinking about:

  • Pressure on an opposing closer trying to conclude a game
  • Loud cheers when the home team starts to rally
  • Home-field edge will grow stronger if crowd totals rise

And, once the regular season gets underway, expect NJ online sportsbooks,  to continually put up creative new wagers.

The Yankees -4.5 versus the Mets for season win totals is a new one at DraftKings.

Will rule changes impact Phillies’ odds?

So before the regular season gets underway, this is a good time to review recent MLB changes that could impact betting.

Doubleheaders will still be seven innings each. Purists don’t like it. Pragmatists contend it helped MLB complete the 2020 season. Remember the Phillies had several 2020 games impacted by COVID-19 and played multiple doubleheaders.

So how betting is impacted?

Well, seven-inning games remove the volatile, high-scoring eighth inning.

Many non-playoff teams have a weak set-up man.

Strong teams, however, usually have a good one.

This is a natural separator between clubs. So the absence of it will often bolster underdogs.

The 2020 Phillies serve as a perfect example. They had one of the worst bullpens in MLB history. The telling stat is 14 blown saves.  And a 7.06 ERA  is something the Phillies can’t afford to happen again this season.

Same for bettors wagering on the Phillies to win the National League East.

What about extra innings?

While the universal designated hitter is not returning, the extra-innings rule is.

This is the one in which every extra inning the team starts with a runner on second base with no outs. This shortens the marathon games.

Plus, it gives teams a high probability of scoring in each at-bat and turns many imminent “under” winners into losers on the totals bet.

This aspect is true with any overtime game. However, it has more prominence in baseball because other sports contain either a time limit or sudden death.

Runs output in these situations will be interesting to track over the course of an entire season.

And this season, many Phillies fans and bettors will be doing it right from their seats at Citizens Bank Park.

AP Photo/Matt Slocum

 

 

Dave Bontempo

About

Dave Bontempo, a multiple national award-winning boxing commentator and writer, authors NFL betting columns for the Press of Atlantic City and IGaming Player, among others.