I have often said here that Congressional legislation to ban gambling on sporting events and the moralistic chest thumping of the NCAA are futile
gestures that will not achieve the desired end. I now offer another sliver of evidence to support my thesis that people enjoy gambling and will wager
on just about anything.
According to the Washington Post yesterday, there are several betting sites on the Internet and a legalized betting parlor in Ireland that are taking
action on who the next Pope will be. You can bet on who it will be, the age of the next Pope, the nationality of the next Pope. I checked one of the
sites mentioned in the article; indeed, there are lots of "Pope props" and they are being handled as pari-mutuel wagers -- analogous to a horse race.
I cannot find anything even related to this on any of the Las Vegas hotel sites.
So, here is a way for people who wager on sports - whether it's via bracket pools or horse tracks or Las Vegas casinos - to send a message to the
people who believe that sports wagering is a sign of the apocalypse. Get one of these books to start a pool now on who will replace Dr. Myles Brand at
the NCAA. Or is that too subtle a message for him to get?
Since I was mentioning wagering, I did see that one of the main Kentucky Derby contenders, Rockport Harbor, will miss his next race due to a "minor
blood clot in his neck". That sounds to me like an oxymoron, but I'm not a veterinarian. It does remind me of a comment once made about the phrase
"minor groin surgery" which was defined as "groin surgery done on someone else". Rockport Harbor is this year's Smarty Jones in that he began his
career at Philadelphia Park and is trained by John Servis and ridden by Stewart Elliot. Now picture this; Rockport Harbor misses his prep race but is
entered in the Ky Derby anyway; he overcomes these obstacles to win the race; he's got a Philly connection; they nickname him "Rocky"; someone walks
him up the steps to the Philadelphia Museum of Art; the music thumps in the background...
Barry Bonds announced to the fans in San Francisco yesterday that he will ... be ... back. He got a standing ovation from the fans there when he
received his MVP trophy. That was one short retirement and one quick recovery, no? I have a couple of questions for Messr. Bonds here:
1. Since everything that is negative in your life is the fault of the media, can you explain just how they got your former mistress to write her book
and "chat" with the grand jury? Oh, and while you're at it, how did the media set you up to get involved in that long-term affair in the first place?
2. You said you were going to spend time with your family when you said you would retire and rehab your knee. So, did your family have enough of you
and urge you to make this comeback so quickly?
The LA Lakers were eliminated from the playoffs. The Miami Heat clinched the #1 seed in the NBA East for the playoffs. In case you were ever confused
by the concept of karma, here is an amazing example of how the totality of one's actions in life determines one's ultimate fate. If someone were to
write this into a Hollywood script, critics would say it was far too contrived.
On Monday of this week, MLB was rolling out a new season and the NCAA Tournament was playing its final game. By the way, the overnight ratings for the
UNC/Illinois game came in at 16.4, which is up about 40% over last year. While those two sports were gathering positive momentum, the NHL and the
NHLPA had another meeting. The league made two new proposals and the NHLPA rejected both of them. Hockey hasn't had a sniff of good news for a long
time now and these events - happening on a day when other sports were on a high - emphasize the precarious position of the NHL as a business entity.
There is now a lot of murmuring that the owners will try to use replacement players next year if there is no labor agreement. Lots of hockey fans say
- very loudly - that it will not work and that it has not worked in any other sport where it has been tried. I'm not sure. Since 99% of the sports
fans in the US can't identify four hockey players by name or by face, what difference would it be to them if there were replacement players on the
ice? Yes, it will be a big deal in Canada, but the fact is that the majority of the league revenues do not come from Canada. I have no idea how all of
this will proceed, but I would not rule out replacement players for next year. And if they put them on the ice and that revives hockey - with or
without the current players' participation - then the question will be, what took them so long?
When I read that Shawn Kemp had been arrested, I was a bit surprised to learn that it was for drug/firearms possession. I would have guessed that he
would have run afoul of the law with respect to child support payments before anything else...
The Masters begins tomorrow. I do love to hear Hootie Johnson tell us about the "toon-a-mint" that they hold there in Augusta every year. Greg Cote
had a good observation about the Masters in the Miami Herald yesterday:
"The Masters is coming up. Martha Burk will be picketing the fact that her previous picket didn't amount to much."
The state of Tennessee has a bad reputation in boxing for giving licenses to just about any fighter who has a measurable blood pressure and can fog a
mirror. The people who run boxing there say they are trying to change things and change the image of boxing in Tennessee. Well, they might want to try
just a bit harder. As part of a recent card called "Music City Mayhem", there was a bout between former heavyweight champion Tony Tubbs who is 47
years old and a boxer named "Dangerous Danny" Wofford. Wofford is reportedly 43 years old; the tale of the tape is that he is 5'7" tall and weighs 300
lbs. If that does not make him sound like much an athlete, "Dangerous Danny" has a reported record of 17-99-2. This man has to be one of the great
catchers of all time.
Jerry Glanville will be the defensive coordinator for the University of Hawaii next year; he is known for his enthusiasm and his animated behavior on
the sidelines. He may need it. Last year, Hawaii ranked 116th in total defense among Division 1-A teams. In case you didn't know, there are only 117
Division 1-A teams.
Finally, Scott Ostler was pondering the putative Barry Bonds retirement in the San Francisco Chronicle:
"Why is Barry so tired? He never says. He's too tired to explain."
But don't get me wrong, I love sports...
Copyright The Sports Curmudgeon