The NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament started today, which reminded me of my biggest winning sports wager, albeit quite by accident. It was April 3, 1995 and we were in Las Vegas,Nevada during Spring Break to visit Grandma, Briana's sister and her family. I was looking for a place to go watch the NCAA Championship game between UCLA and Arkansas, where UCLA was a 3 point favorite. I saw a newspaper ad saying you could get a free t-shirt for playing a $20 parlay card at a place called The Santa Fe, which was way out on North Rancho Blvd. I walked in and the place was full of UCLA fans from California. They were a little loud and obnoxious, and from the sound of things they had bet UCLA, of course, and total score over 170. UCLA had a powerful offense that year, and had scored over 100 in a game earlier in the tournament. They had also escaped with a narrow win, the result of a closing seconds, coast to coast, lay up against Missouri. To be different I decided I would take Arkansas and under 170. I made my wager, ignored the little sign saying "check your ticket before leaving the window", stuffed the ticket in my pocket, took my free t-shirt and found a seat in the sports book. The game was played and UCLA won by 11 points, but the final score was 89-78 for a total of 167, short of the 170+ to make good on the parlays for these UCLA chaps. So they were celebrating the win, but lamenting the loss of their bets, as can so often be the case when playing against point spreads. Arkansas had made me a loser as well, so I hung around for a while, tried my had at some Blackjack, without winning or losing much of anything. On my way out the door I was ready to toss my losing parlay ticket in the trash when I took what turned out to be my first look at the ticket. It said "UCLA -3 Under 170." The ticket was a WINNER! I guess the guy at the window had been pushing the UCLA button all afternoon, and didn't bother to listen to that part of my proposition. So I cashed my accidental winning ticket for $72 and celebrated my good fortune by not wagering any of it in the casino.
There is a bit of a dust up going on right now in Hollywood. It seems some actors "of color" are wicked off about the Oscar nominations. They say there is a "lack of diversity" in The Oscars and they are not going to attend. But wait... the host is Chris Rock. I guess a host doesn't get the same cache as a nominee, all but one of whom will lose, right? Spike Lee has a film out this year. I've never seen one of his films, and I can't imagine I ever would. The subject matter doesn't appeal to me. Will Smith, who's wife Jada is leading the charge on this diversity issue, is a leading actor in a motion picture. But the film is "Concussion" which is a story of a doctor who determined football players were susceptible to brain damage. An astounding discovery. Not interested in the story, which came out at Christmas for reasons I don't understand, and from the trailers it doesn't look like much of an acting job. My favorite actor of all time is John Wayne. He was a better actor than a lot of people give him credit for, but boy was short-changed at The Oscars. Some say it was because of his politics. He was a Hawk, which was the early term for conservative, and made him something of an oddity in Hollywood in the 1940's, 50's and 60's. A lot of people think he should have won for The Searchers in 1956 and to a lesser extent for Sands of Iwo Jima in 1949. But when he didn't win, or at times wasn't nominated, he didn't go sour grapes on The Oscars. He finally won in 1969 for True Grit. There are those think that was kind of a "make up" award for his treatment in the preceding decades. As for the current dust up... whatever. I think we achieve diversity in these fields when we no longer have to talk about it. It's not about what color you are, it's about how good your work is.
May 2, 2015 - T. The Mayweather vs Pacquiao fight. I didn't see it but apparently it was underwhelming. I can't image a sporting event I would pay $100 to see on TV. For me the golden age of boxing was the 1980's. Hagler, Hearns, Leonard, Duran all pretty much in their prime. Living in Las Vegas at the time there was always a buzz about those fights, even if they weren't being fought in Las Vegas. Sounds like they tried to revive that era for this fight, but it apparently didn't measure up.
After 20+ years it's time to update some of the house. Parts of the house are over 100 years old, some of it dates back to the 1950's and there is a 1990's addition me and my dad did. Actually the whole house could be bulldozed, but we can't do that, so it's going to be one room at a time. When we first bought the place it felt like I was constantly working on it. Financing was lean, craftsmanship was questionable, and it felt like an endless series of projects. One thing would get finished, and then something else would have to be done. I lost patience and got burned out on the endless projects. So, we lived in the place and watched it deteriorate over the years. This winter we decided to update the bathrooms and laundry room, with the kitchen to follow, maybe in the summer? So far I have discovered I have a lot more patience for this stuff, 20 years later.
We have sort of two spring seasons around here. There is the regular spring with all the rain and green grass everywhere. But in the fall the winter wheat is planted and it grows in the furrow until winter sets in. So while the landscape is a toasted summer red, gold and brown, the winter wheat fields are bursting with a "second spring" green.
For years I have heard the talking heads at ESPN goofing on soccer. SVP, Cowherd and some others. Now that ESPN has made a significant investment in World Cup Soccer coverage, they are all of a sudden talking about what a great game soccer is. Hypocrisy! Any game you play for an hour and a half or two hours to a scoreless tie is unwatchable.
When I was a teenager I had a job that doesn't exist anymore. I was a service station attendant. The Union 76 station on South Grand in Pullman, just before you left town on the way to Evergreen, Colton, Uniontown, Lewiston and points beyond. It is now a Perfection Tire store. A service station was a place where you could drive your car up to the gas pumps and have an attendant (me) come out and pump your gas, wash the windshield, check your oil and tires, then take your credit card into the store, and bring it back with the credit card slip on a little clip board for you to sign. All without the driver having to get out of the car. It was a great service, and a great job for a kid, but there was a lot of downtime especially on Sundays. I heard a lot of American Top 40 with Casey Kasem. His show was a fixture on the AM radio on the counter at the service station. And when his show was over it was a Linda Ronstadt or Simon & Garfunkel cassette. RIP Casey Kasem. This teenager's Sundays at the service station were so much better for your radio show.
The Seahawks did not make a pick on day one. I knew they would be picking right around 5 PM on day two, so I stopped by one of those places with a 30 foot TV screen to watch it unfold. I walked in and sat down by two young guys both wearing Seahawks gear. I noticed the Seahawk pick was up, but Jacksonville was using it to pick a guy I knew the Seahawks liked, so I asked these two guys what was going on. They told me the Seahawks traded down in the draft order, and would be coming back up again after a few more teams made selections. So we sat there waiting for the Seahawks to pick. But before the Seahawks came up, these two guys got up and started to leave. I said “you’re not going to hang around and see who they pick?” One guy looked at me and said “they picked a receiver from Colorado. The TV is delayed ten minutes, but you can get it live on your phone.” I’m sure they walked away wondering how that old guy survives, being so clueless about technology. I have a smartphone, but it wouldn’t occur to me to watch the NFL draft on damn thing. Which had me wondering why these young guys bothered to sit in front of a 30 foot TV screen if they were watching the draft on their phones? Must be a generational thing?
Shaking off the remnants of winter, with the first day of spring less than a week away. Today it is red ale, corned beef in the dutch oven, roasted cabbage and potatoes (I don't like the stuff boiled) and the annual screening of The Quiet Man.
I have a cousin, or cousin once removed I guess, who is on the Seahawk roster as an undrafted free agent. A lot of folks have never heard of him, but he has played a little this year. His name is Bryan Walters and he wears uniform #19. His mom is my first cousin, and for a couple of weeks every summer, in Pullman and/or Cashmere, she was my "big sister." His dad went to the same high school as me, although several years apart. I have not spent a lot of time around Bryan, in fact it has been several years since I have seen him in person. But he is my favorite Seahawk, or at least my favorite Seahawk who did not play before #19 was born. I go way back in terms of Seahawk history. ;-) We learned this morning that Bryan will be inactive for today's game. The family connection gives me a special feel for the 2013-14 Seahawks and the Super Bowl Game. So while I will be watching Russell Wilson, Richard Sherman and listening to Peyton Manning yell "Omaha" like everybody else, I would also have been looking at the sidelines, and watching the units run on and off the field, looking for a glimpse of #19. Maybe next year?