Gambling and Other Holiday Sporting Topics

We’ve been quiet awhile here at SportsAttic, so it’s time for a catch up around the major sports, starting with football:

NFL

*I have a gambling problem. There, I said it. This isn’t an admission in the traditional sense, one where I’m writing this while hitchhiking home, penniless, from Vegas. No, this is more in the sense that everything I touch that even smells like a wager these days, turns to coal. Lucky for me, the agony of defeat is tens times greater than the thrill of victory when it comes to putting my hard earned dinero at risk, which is what has always kept me from falling hopelessly and dangerously into the abyss of the (now mostly legal) world of sports gambling. But even when just fooling around with friends, as a few colleagues and I do weekly with a handful of NFL picks, I’m getting my ass handed to me. Whether it’s Deshaun Watson fumbling on the Colts six just as he’s about to cover my biggest Sunday bet, or the hapless Cowboys (I’ve told myself “no more NFC East bets” at least half a dozen times this season, yet there I was screaming at the TV set) missing three FG’s in the first half Monday night and totally sucking away any spirit America’s Team may have had left in them, I can’t buy a win. Even when I attempt an emotional hedge, picking the Raiders to cover against my Jets (you know those mental negotiations, I know you do — a monetary win from the Raiders cover will make up for the emotional gut punch from another Jets defeat), it goes bad when the Jets lose in colossal-Jets-fashion on a last second TD pass. But being the Jets, the heartbreaking loss still isn’t enough to cover the eight points I’m laying out. Good grief. Lucky for me, the law of averages tells me this is my week…

*The Chiefs really seem to be head and shoulders better than everybody else, don’t they? I mean, like not-even-close-better, right? The Steelers? They were the worst undefeated team this side of the ’72 Dolphins before finally coming back to earth last weekend. It says here the Pittsburg Pretenders finish 13-3 and make an early playoff exit in January. How about the Bills? Can they beat K.C.? Tennessee? Miami? Really??? What about whoever the NFC produces as their Super Bowl entrant? The Saints? C’mon, they’re really kind of terrible, too — in a Pittsburgh-great-record kind of way. Nobody really believes in New Orleans, do they? Yeah, barring a Mahomes injury, the next Lombardi Trophy presentation seems like a foregone conclusion.

*Speaking of the NFC East — could the Giants or D.C. No-Names actually finish .500? What fun would that be? The whole point was to see one of these horrible squads slog through the final month of the season before backing into the playoffs as a putrid division winner at 6-10. The mini hot streaks in New Jersey and D.C. have taken all the fun out of that one. However, it says here either team will be a tough out in Round 1 of the playoffs against one of the multitude of NFC also-rans.

*Boy, do the Patriots suck… yes, it feels wonderful typing that.

NCAA Football

*Copper Springs Roddy texted in a grievance against the Big 10 for mismanaging the schedule to their own (TV, Big $) benefit. I didn’t have a great response, since I’ve essentially ignored college football this year, given the funky scheduling and staggered starts for different conferences. That being said, I do think Southern Cal should be in the running for the national championship game… Fight On!

* One of the best parts about the Army-Navy game (and there are many) is being able to make an ironclad case for rooting for either team. As a kid I always went with whoever was wearing the black jerseys. Still as good a system as any here in 2020, and even though they’re in green today, it’s a dark green, soooo… Go Army, Beat Navy!

MLB

*Glad to see that even under new ownership, nobody can win a postseason like the New York Baseball Mets. We’ve got a new, hard throwing reliever, and a shiny new starting catcher, and now we want a new #2 starting pitcher to go with them, and a centerfielder and, and, and… Sure, you can even throw a new GM in there somewhere, too. Somebody has to sit at the press conferences after spending all of the new owner’s money, don’t they? And while you’re at it, Steve Cohen and Sandy Alderson, throw us a trade for Francisco Lindor, and maybe pick up DJ LeMahieu just to piss off the Yankees. Let’s make up for nearly 60 years of penny pinching over the course of one offseason, boys. I’m all in — LFGM!

*Speaking of the Yanks. Wouldn’t it be great if they began to revert back to the days of the early-’80’s when they traded young talent for washed up veterans? Remember Jay Buhner for Ken Phelps? Fred McGriff? Willie McGee? Doug Drabek? All young Yankees talent that never got the chance to blossom in the Bronx. Yeah, bring us lots of those kinds of deals, please, starting with the trades of Clint Frazier and Luke Voit this winter, and then build on that. Yes, we are well aware that Brian Cashman is probably much smarter than that, and that Hal Steinbrenner doesn’t have the same impatient and impetuous streak his dad did, but c’mon, this is the offseason where Mets fans dare to dream, right?

*There’s a debate raging among Mets fans about bringing back the black uniforms during this franchise reboot. I’m a pure royal blue-and-orange guy. Put me in the old school category, and keep the black unis buried — this isn’t Army-Navy, folks. And while we are busy burying bad ideas, let’s keep the DH out of the Senior Circuit, too, even if it does benefit the Mets. Some traditions need to be upheld.

NBA

*Shortest hoops offseason in history? Yawn. Oh goodie, we’ll have the NBA back on Christmas Day. Nah, I’m watching the non-stop Christmas Story loop (“you’ll put your eye out, kid”). It’s going to take a lot for me to get interested again. The LeBron-Lakers league-sanctioned championship sham of the 2020 Bubble left me with little interest to reengage. This was a year where I needed a longer offseason.

*So James Harden wants to be traded? Whatever… The Rockets already sent Russ Westbrook to the shittiest franchise this side of the New York Knicks when they traded him to Washington, so where can they send The Beard? Minnesota, maybe? How about Orlando? Talk about a guy that will be impossible to build a championship team around, between his bloated salary and need to control the ball on every possession. Unless Harden changes his approach, he has no shot of ever earning a ring. Good luck finding “equal” value in a trade, Houston.

*Loved the Obi Toppin pick for the Knicks, and also that Tom Thibodeau plans to have his charges playing honest to goodness, professional defense, but what will that actually mean? If we have a 70-game season, can Knicks fans realistically even hope for a 30-40 record? Success still feels an eternity away from returning to Madison Square Garden, but I suppose you have to start somewhere. If we can win 30 and develop a few of the youngsters into actual, contributing pros, Thibs gets a huge thumbs up for 2021-22.

*I’d really like to root for the Brooklyn Nets this year. They’ll never replace the Knicks in my heart, but I’ve always been a fan of the franchise, dating back to the pre-Dr. J days of Rick Barry and Bill Melchionni. But jumping on the Nets bandwagon for ’21-’22 would mean trying to stomach Kyrie Irving, and I just don’t think that’s possible. Poor Steve Nash. He’s got his hands full simply being a first-time head coach, but add in the headaches of Kyrie and the high likelihood that he poisons Kevin Durant, and this will make for a fascinating case study, if nothing else. I suppose there’s always a chance Kyrie gets a hang nail and misses most of the season, as has been his pattern the last few years (and funny how his teams seem more cohesive and happier once he’s sidelined), but barring that, it feels like Brooklyn becomes the team to root against when I get bored with hoping the Lakers lose.

NHL

*A hockey note! How about that? I was cleaning out some cabinets the other day and came across three signed pucks from my days as a fan of the New Jersey Devils — Scott Stevens, Martin Brodeur and Ken Daneyko. It reminded me of how much fun those disciplined and talented Devils teams of the dynasty years (and yes, they had a legit dynasty going) were to watch. And even though I’m not paying close attention, it feels like Lou Lamoriello may be building something similar out on Long Island these days. Let’s hope so — those diehards out east may be the most passionate hockey fans I’ve every seen. Go Isles.

Have a nice weekend everyone!

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