10 Sports Prop Bets The World Needed Yesterday
In case this sentence hasn't already been interrupted by a FanDuel or Draft Kings ad somehow, sports gambling is legal now. Mostly. That's
financially devastating going great for us, but it doesn't solve the problem of bets we could have made. Somebody wake up H.G. Wells, we're going back in time to lay some sweet action on these prop bets:
Will Bill Russell Get +10 Blocks?
The NBA did not record blocks or steals as an official stat until 1973-74, long after Bill Russell had retired (and, frustratingly, a year that Wilt Chamberlain sat out before retiring). It's an irritating bit of historical malpractice that stat keepers just got sitting on their ass smoking Pall Malls indoors instead of paying attention to defense, but this is the version of the multiverse we live in. Thanks to being 6'10" and 7'1" while playing against guys named “Dolph” and “Chet,” Russell and Chamberlain regularly got a ridiculous 6-10 blocks a game (as casually counted by sportswriters and observers). No one's ever averaged more than 5.5. Some reports have Russell/Chamberlain averaging 8.1-8.8. Those are absurd, unheard of numbers. According to anecdotes from players and coaches, Russell would “decide” to start blocking shots in the fourth quarter, apparently having the superpower to pick his spots doing one of the most difficult things in the game of basketball.
So the prop bet, if we had a time machine, is will Bill Russell get 10 blocks in this game? It's a rarity that could happen any night. We'd be betting it every game.
Will Wilt Chamberlain Average A Quadruple-Double?
“Why only bet Bill Russell? Why not Wilt?" you ask, too afraid to dream bigger. Wilt Chamberlain once averaged 50 points and 25 rebounds per game. He once averaged 48.5 minutes per game, and there are only 48 minutes in an NBA game. This is a Basketball Reference page that will never be duplicated, because duplicating it would be an overreaching act of egomaniacal madness, akin only to Ahab. Wilt Chamberlain once led the league in assists because he felt like it. Not to mention the fact that triple-doubles (10 of any three statistical category, usually points-rebounds-assists) weren't really a thing back when Wilt played. People got them, but they weren't talked about as a goal. Imagine if triple-doubles were seen as an achievement, plus the NBA kept track of blocks and steals. You know that Wilt would try to average a quadruple-double. If he can average 24-24-8 because he feels like it, would he go for 20-20-10-10? Would he get it?
We're not taking this one—it feels like too unheard of a statistical achievement to imagine existing. Even in NBA 2K, you'd probably start feeling like you were cheating if you were putting up those gaudy numbers. But Wilt was known for doing the impossible. We're not taking it, but we wouldn't laugh you out of the room if you did.
Will Greg Maddux Get a Maddux?
Pitching a complete game (all nine innings) is really difficult. Pitching a shutout is really difficult. Pitching a complete game shutout is exceedingly difficult. Pitching a complete game shutout in under 100 pitches is a Maddux, according to baseball writer Jason Lukehart, who coined the term in 2012. Greg Maddux was a master control pitcher, insanely efficient and not one to waste time with batters, averaging 3.2 pitches per hitter for his career. Apparently, it wasn't actually all that common for Maddux to throw a Maddux, but Maddux is still the all-time leader in Madduxes thrown.
The problem with this stat is Lukehart invented it in 2012. The Professor retired in 2008. That means no one ever had a chance to bet this, which is a sin and a shame. This is definitely one you have to be smart about though—really consult matchups, pitcher history vs. various batters, all the prognostication you can you handle. A highly skilled bet.
Will Rickey Henderson Hit a Leadoff Homer?
Oozing with earned confidence, Rickey Henderson was one of the most fun ballplayers ever. Let the Dorktown lads tell you about Rickey Henderson, he's a truly unique player with more never-to-be-duplicated stats than we have time for. Our favorite for prop bet, though, is simple and over the moment the game begins: will Rickey Henderson homer on his first plate appearance? Not necessarily first pitch, but first plate appearance. Rickey loved doing that. Loved it. Loved it. He's first all-time with 81 leadoff home runs. Alfonso Soriano is second with 54. Imagine how confidence-killing that is for a pitcher, for an entire team. Baseball games take, like, a really long time. And your first impression is a leadoff homer? Demoralizing as a late-spring snowfall the day after you plant your geraniums.
Now, it is important to remember that 81 leadoff homers is still spread over a 24-year career. This isn't a bet you should take often. But when September rolls around, if Rickey's team is in the playoff hunt? Yeah, start taking that bet. Just to see.
Will Rex Grossman Have -15.5 Completions?
The 2006 Chicago Bears went to the Super Bowl despite having late night talk show host punchline Rex Grossman at quarterback. You really don't want your starting quarterback in Letterman/Leno's hands, especially with an easily pun-able name like that. The amazing thing about the Bears, though, is that they won a whole bunch of games despite their quarterback regularly having stat lines that looked like a bunch of zeros stood next to other numbers to see what it felt like to be big. Rex Grossman had seven games with 15 completions or less in 2006, a number that is both atrocious and feels like too few bad games to reconcile with memory. Rex Grossman was not a good quarterback, even if his ready-for-Leno nickname was “Sexy Rexy.”
So: will Rex Grossman get -15.5 completions? We're taking it every time. 2006 Bears might still win, though, because…
Will The 2006 Chicago Bears Score +6 On Defense/Special Teams?
Boasting a ferocious defense and a Hall Of Fame-worthy special teams unit, the 2006 Bears scored points while not on offense. Devin Hester was such a Quicksilver-meets-Sonic threat as a return man that you basically expected a punt or kickoff to end in a touchdown. Eventually, teams straight-up stopped kicking to Hester, and the Bears had to go get another fast returner in Johnny Knox. That's how insanely good the Bears' return units, especially Hall-of-Famer Devin Hester, were. Here he is returning the opening kickoff in the Super Bowl for a touchdown. Such a shame lightning struck the stadium after that play and the rest of the game never happened.
So the prop is simple: will the Bears score +6 on defense and special teams? That's a defensive/kick return TD and a field goal at its easiest. We're taking it all 16 games.
Will Adam Dunn Touch +4 Bases?
The three true outcomes for a plate appearance are a home run, walk, or strikeout. No one touches the ball except pitcher, batter, or catcher. Adam Dunn loved the three true outcomes. For reference, Babe Ruth—another dude who hated running—ended 39% of his plate appearances with one of the three true outcomes. Adam Dunn avoiding running to first for more than half of his career plate appearances. That's weaponized loafing, legendary laziness. It's amazing.
So will Adam Dunn touch four bases? That's a home run, or it's four singles/walks. Totally possible, but not necessarily guaranteed.
Will Tom Glavine Bat +.220?
We mentioned Greg Maddux earlier for his unique ability as a control pitcher. His ‘90s Atlanta Braves rotation mate, Tom Glavine had another quirk: he was uniquely good at hitting. For a pitcher. Pitchers suck at hitting. Pitchers suck at hitting so much the American League created a new position literally called the "designated hitter" so that pitchers never have to whack a ball with a club. Beginning in 2022, Major League Baseball implemented a universal DH. This is better for offenses, but kind of a bummer for quirky weirdo pitchers who can hit. Our boy Tommy Glavs was one such pitcher who could hit, finishing multiple seasons in the mid-.200s, whereas most pitchers hover around .130.
Glavine hit .220 or better six times over his 22-year career. Not a good bet to take every time, for sure, but his prime in the late 90s? Yeah, we'd take that.
Will Jud Buechler Get A Trillion?
You know benchwarmers? Players that never take off their warmups, never see action beyond timeout high-fives and vigorous butt-slapping pep talks? Those guys actually see the court sometimes, and that means they show up in the box score. Like all numbers, box scores are merciless. So the team's up 20 with a few possessions to go and Coach doesn't want to risk Derrick Rose tearing an ACL in meaningless time, Coach turns to the end of the bench and says “go do something for three minutes.” If you, the benchwarmer, don't score, rebound, get a steal, or anything, you register a trillion. First coined by center Scott Hastings in 1990, a trillion means you got in for a minute and didn't record a single other statistic. Our favorite trillion master is Jud Buechler, the Cacausianly-named wing from the 1995-1998 Chicago Bulls.
Imagine watching one of the greatest basketball teams of all time wollop their way to 72 and 69 wins in back-to-back seasons, the greatest player of all time just going nuts, and getting to bet on whether or not Jud Buechler would register a trillion that night? We'd do it all 82 games. Who cares. We'd throw all our cash away on that one.
Will Shaq Break The Backboard?
Look, young Shaq was built different. People compare Giannis to him—we get it, but that's more based on them both being unique than real stylistic similarities. People comparing Zion Williamson to him—let's just say Zion has a ways to go. The Big Aristotle was more like a goddamn Heracles. And that dude broke the backboard so much they had to alter the rulebook. Now, the NBA calls ripping down the rim a technical foul, and every arena has a backup rim. All because Shaq had a relationship to the rim that was like the reverse Thor and Mjolnir, because the rim wasn't worthy of Shaq.
Chris Corlew doesn't gamble and researched this article by watching Fan Duel ads. Bet you won't find him on Twitter.