Monday, July 11, 2005

"You spent $300...and it was really just a massage?"

I spent this past weekend in Vegas for a bachelor party, which meant spending a fair amount of money (I find that Vegas completely destroys one's sense of time and money, even a cheap-ass like myself, such that by the end of the weekend, a $25 cover to go into a bar makes perfect sense), getting little sleep (thank goodness I'm cheap and don't gamble much or else I would have gotten absolutely no sleep), and watching a bunch of single compatriots (and a few not-single friends) make new friends. The supply of women in that town is off the charts, which is a testament to the fact that the town has turned itself from a macho place to gamble into a party place like South Beach that attracts bachelorette parties by the bushel. Good thing, too, because with the rise of Biloxi-type places and Indian casinos, Vegas doesn't have the gambling monopoly that it used to.

Anyway, since this blog is ostensibly about sports, I suppose I should mention my trip to the Sports Book at Bally's, which was populated with the one form of life even lower than the sad oldies who sit sullen at the slot machines for hours at a time, playing a "game" that entails absolutely no skill or independent thought: horse racing addicts. Vegas is the only place you see these guys, who look like they haven't seen the sun or had human interaction since 1972. They shout at horses on TV screens, as if that will make them run faster. I know I do the same thing with Michigan safeties, but they're human beings with free will, so in the fictional world in which they can hear me, they can respond to my pleas to "tackle somebody for once." What's a horse going to do if it hears you yell "Faster, you tub of glue!"?

I'm digressing in a major way. What I was trying to say was that I found the odds on the college football national title to be unhinged from reality, mainly in the sense that they clearly reflect the economics of the situation. Ohio State (8:1) and Michigan (9:1) were the third and fourth favorites (USC and Texas are #1 and #2), which is amusing to me since Big Ten teams rarely win (or even contend for) the national title, a fact that wouldn't be lost on the knowledgeable gambler, but the hordes of Michigan and OSU fans streaming into Vegas from Kalamazoo and Upper Sandusky can't be described as such. Me? I'm a knowledgeable gambler in my imagination. In reality, I'm just knowledgeable, which is why I staked a whopping $10 on LSU at 20:1. Their odds are more than twice as long as the cream of the Big Ten, despite the fact that they don't play a tough road game and were better than both last year. Knowing my luck, they'll run the table and then tumble in the SEC Title Game or the Rose Bowl. The Tigers were the one objective bet that I made. I also plunked down $10 on the Braves to win the NL and Holland to win the World Cup, or, as I described it to my brother, I took $20 and lit it on fire, betting on two two teams notorious for failing once in sight of a championship.

Interestingly, Georgia was 40:1, which seemed awfully long odds, but then I remembered that the odds are nothing more than a reflection of the market's perception and the market is hung up on the fact that Georgia is replacing their quarterback and star defensive players (ignoring the fact that they return almost everything on the lines,) as well as the fact that Tennessee, Florida, and South Carolina have received all of the hype in the division this off-season. Georgia's odds were only marginally better than those of Wisconsin, a plodding Big Ten squad that lost almost every major contributor from the defense that was the sole quality unit on the team in 2004. Then again, that's because there are a lot more mindless homers from Kenosha wandering around Bally's than there are mindless homers from Macon like me.

One other note from the Sports Book: I watched the first five innings of the Braves game on Saturday night and came away with the impression that Kyle Davies is doing a very poor job of locating his pitches. He was right down the middle for the whole first inning, then he was wild thereafter. Leo needs to settle him down a little and remind him that 89 and on the corners with movement is better than a straight 92 over the middle.

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