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Newz Forum: OTHER: Wayne Gretzky, the Lions, the Raider, the Angels plus more...

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posted on Feb, 22 2006 @ 03:21 PM
The sports talk industry is at witter over the accusation that Rick Tocchet was running/funding a sports gambling ring and that Wayne Gretzky's wife was one of the big time players in that enterprise. Let me try to cut to the core of the issues here instead of taking ten pages to tell you that it's raining.

If Tocchet did what he is alleged to have done, that is a violation of existing Federal laws and probably violates existing state laws too.

If Janet Jones actually bet $500K via this gambling ring in the past six weeks as alleged, she too has violated existing Federal laws.

Notice here that there are extant laws intended to 'prevent' this kind of activity; yet the activity supposedly happened. So, anyone calling for more laws is ignoring the fact that laws do not 'prevent' gambling.

By the way, why are there leaks of information from the authorities through the media on this matter? If the prosecutors don't plug them up, this will start to look like a re-enactment of the Kenneth Starr special prosecutor endeavor.

I am particularly annoyed by the people portraying themselves as morally aghast in this matter who have focused on the alleged ties to organized crime. That is the boogeyman hiding in the closet, which ought to prove to everyone how dangerous it is to gamble on sporting events. Right. And when any athlete gets arrested for possession of marijuana, why don't we hear the same breast-beating from that same morally aghast crowd? Who might they think is involved in the activities that allow illegal drugs to be offered for sale to those athletes? The Little Sisters of the Poor? Even if half the players on the Phoenix Coyotes team were betting money through this ring - and there is no allegation to that effect at the moment let me add - that would not be the first and only time those players might bring themselves into juxtaposition with people involved in organized crime.

There is a contingent of sportswriters in Italy at the moment poised to cover the Winter Olympics. Many of the columnists there have probably pumped their fist in the air as a storyline just landed in their laps. Wayne Gretzky is on his way to Italy in his role as the leader of the Canadian ice hockey team competing in the Winter Olympics...

Let me get off this matter with one observation about sports betting and athletes/coaches involvement in sports betting. There is a fundamental difference between fixing a game and placing a bet. If it is not absolutely clear to you that there is a large gulf between those two activities, I suggest you close your eyes and go back into your coma. Betting on sports is available to just about anyone over the age of 18 in the US through outlets that do not result in arrests and prosecutions. Athletes and coaches should be able to avail themselves of those outlets if they want to without worrying that some computer geek will tell some tabloid that Joe Flabeetz of the Beaglebreath Buzzers has an Internet betting account. Betting on games in which an athlete/coach is not involved is not the same thing as fixing games or passing along inside information to 'the wise guys'. I hope that's clear to everyone.

I also hope you've noticed that the betting scandal du jour involves a coach in a sport where the commissioner is named 'Bettman'. What's next? Maybe Dr. Myles Brand will leave the NCAA and become the commissioner for the International Professional Rodeo Association. (By the way, there is such an organization; I did not make that up.)

The final numbers are in. The Las Vegas books handled a record $94.5M on the Super Bowl game and showed a net profit of 8.8M. Remember that the estimate for the worldwide wagering (legal and illegal) for the game was $7B; Las Vegas books handled just over 1% of the action.

Last week, I tried explaining to you how Sesame Street was sponsoring the Detroit Lions because their whole act was being brought to you by the letter 'M'. In case you hadn't noticed, they just signed - after far too much fanfare - a new offensive coordinator named Mike Martz. I couldn't have picked a better candidate...

A few weeks ago, I suggested that if the Raiders hired Jim Fassel to be the head coach, the papers in the Bay Area could use some version of this for a headline:

The Fossil Hires Jim Fassel

Well, according to reports yesterday, Steelers' offensive coordinator, Ken Whisenhunt, was uninterested in the job. Additionally, Louisville coach, Bobby Petrino, reportedly turned down an offer to coach the Raiders. The field is now thought to be narrowed to Art Shell and Jim Fassel. My 'headline' may see the light of day after all...

Perhaps the DC City Council has approved a plan to get the financing to build the stadium that will keep the Nats in Washington. I say perhaps because one of the under-reported items related to their midnite session earlier this week is that there is another vote scheduled on the matter in a few weeks. Remember that about a third of the City Council hopes to be the next mayor of the city so lots can happen in a few weeks.

Memo to Bud Selig: Next time a franchise has to move (Florida Marlins - wink, wink, nudge, nudge) get a deal where the sale of the team or the approval to move the team is contingent on construction actually starting on a stadium with a lease in place. It will make life so much simpler...

A California jury showed good time management skills when it took only 5 hours to reach a decision in the lawsuit by the City of Anaheim against the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim. They found for the Angels but that's not the critical issue. They had committed days out of their lives to listen to evidence in a trial that had no monumental societal impact no matter how it turned out. They realized that they had done their civic duty and did not need to stretch out the matter any longer. So they reached a verdict quickly and life can move forward. Had the DC City Council been the jury in that trial (there happen to be 12 members on the DC City Council), the jury deliberations might have been as long as an elephant's gestation period.

Finally, here is a line from comedian Tom Dreesen who is an avid participant in pro-am golfing events on how he became a good golfer:

' I owe it all to the book, How to Hit a Top Flight Out of the Rough After You Hit a Titelist Off the Tee.'

But don't get me wrong, I love sports... ... ...



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