In Maaseik, Belgium — October 25, 2013
A wonderful mostly-forgotten gem by one of my favorite musical artists, the marvelous and mystical Van Morrison…..
“When the Leaves Come Falling Down”
From the album Back on Top (1999) by Van Morrison
I saw you standing with the wind and the rain in your face,
And you were thinking about the wisdom of the leaves and their grace,
When the leaves come falling down.
In September, when the leaves come falling down.
Dutch food sucks.
Sorry, Holland. Beautiful country. Nice people. But the local food scene is basically one Long John Silvers after another, only with unpronouncable names.
Your food choices in Holland are pretty much limited to the following choices: Fish, fish, and more fish — and it’s all fucking fried. Just about everything you order comes with fried potatoes topped with a giant dollap of mayonaise. Yuck. After staying here a week and losing a full belt loop in an unplanned fast, I’m ready to flee the country just to get a good meal. And today that’s exactly what I did, racing towards the German border in a reverse blitzkrieg with the first authentic German restaurant as my primary target. Hey, you know the food is lousy when you’re burning rubber towards Germany to get a decent meal.
I just watched a news report that the National Football League is seriously entertaining the idea of placing a team in London.
Sounds reasonable. The American sports scene has pretty much reached the saturation point. I’ve already noted that some so-called “major” sports are in serious decline. Even the wildly-popular NFL likely faces serious challanges attracting new fans in the years to come. Fact is, if someone isn’t watching pro football by now, there’s a slim chance they’ll convert and become a fan sometime later. Moreover, every region of the country already has an NFL team, which means there’s really no such thing as an untapped market within the U.S.
And so — the NFL is wisely considering expansion overseas, with the primary focus on Great Britain. The appeal and advantages of expansion here are obvious. A common language and culture. Considerable wealth. A rich sporting heritage. Excellent stadiums. Huge television money. In fact, London has hosted at least one NFL regular season game for years. But now, there’s serious talk about a franchise actually being placed in Wembley Stadium full time.
What’s most interesting about this prospect is something the NFL doesn’t like to talk about and never publicly acknowledges. And that”s the NFL’s extensive popularity stemming largely from one thing — gambling. There’s absolutely no doubt that gambling (and its close cousin — fantasy football) have combined to make the NFL into a jaggernaut. Every game is now watchable by anyone who follows the game, due to either a financial interest of from a fantasy sports perspective.
But we Americans are wimps. The Brits take betting on sports to new levels.
NOLAN DALLA: 2013 NFL SEASON RECORD
48 WINS – 41 LOSSES — 3 PUSHES
LAST WEEK – 6 WINS — 5 LOSSES
STARTING BANKROLL: $10,000.
CURRENT BANKROLL: $8,215.
NET GAIN/LOSS: minus $1,785.
BEST BETS: 6–9–1
Let’s talk about Jacksonville.
Lots of people beat me up for picking that pig last week. It lost by double digits. Funny how it’s always easy to see the light AFTER the game is over. There sure are a lot of geniuses on Monday mornings.
But here’s the facts. One key to profitable sports betting is to try and stay AHEAD of the market. Follow the crowd and you’re going to lose your ass in the long run. Big time. Winners anticipate what’s likely to happen and then take advantage of numbers that haven’t quite adjusted yet to reality.
If any team is an absolute pariah right now, it’s Jacksonville. They’re on a slide that could rival the winless 2008 Detroit Lions. Yet even those awful Lions that year didn’t go 0-16 against the spread. There are spots when you should bet on bad teams. Moreover, it’s immensely profitable to get as much value as you can anytime the market thinks one way, and reality suggests something different.
So, I was wrong about Jacksonville last week. I’m going to be wrong a lot of times, as the record shows. But that pick last week was more a case of betting against the rival than falling in love with the team we’re backing. There are likely to be situations where this will come up again. By the way, Jacksonville’s only cover this season was versus the team that most say is the best in the NFL right now — Denver. So, it goes to show that selective contrarianism works. Moreoever, anyone who thinks following to the echo chamber (“Jacksonville sucks,” etc.) will make money as a betting strategy is invited to e-mail me. I’ll be glad to take your wagers. You don’t make money betting with the crowd, you do so (sometimes) by betting against it.
Then again, if you don’t like my plays then by all means please — be against them. You’ve be 7 games under .500 and stuck somewhat worse than where I am right now, due to the extra vig. I’m not in a position to squawk right now, with a rough start to the season. But I’ll be glad to fade what’s popular almost every time.
As I said, it’s been a less than satisfying season, but there’s still a long way to go. Here are my nine plays for NFL Week 8:
Grab a shovel. Baseball is dead. Time to bury it forever.
Consider if you will the dreadful television ratings of the current series between two of the game’s most storied franchises — St. Louis and Boston. The most recent primetime game drew about 14 million viewers. Keep in mind this is the championship extravaganza, baseball’s premier event. Fourteen million viewers. About what a CSI episode draws on a Tuesday night or the typical viewership for a lackluster mid-season NFL game between two medicocre teams.
Indeed, baseball faces some serious problems –worse now than ever. If St. Louis and Boston — teams located in markets where baseball still remains wildly popular — can’t muster better numbers than this, then what hope does the game have for the future? Answer — none, unless the mighty baseball lords make some significant changes. And then, it still might be too late.
Anecdotal evidence is hardly a barometer, I’ll admit. Still, I don’t know of a single person who cares about these games or who is watching the World Series of Baseball with any interest, and that includes the people gambling on it. In Las Vegas, it’s pretty much like buying a stock. Once you make your bet, then you go and do something else more interesting and come back later and check on your action.
I haven’t attended a baseball game in years. The last one I went to was at Dodger Stadium. Marieta and I attended game with Rich Korbin. We had the best seats in the house, located right behind home plate. Dodger Stadium sure was nice. It was a perfect 72-degree night. But the game was a bore. Every break was filled with commerical announcements blaring from the loudspeakers. Every bit of real estate was plastered with some corporate logo. It’s one thing to get bombarded with advertising when watching on television. But I found the entire experience completely intolerable. By the way, Rich and I bet the game to go under to the total. Once the Dodgers took a 7-2 lead in the top of the third inning, we darted out of the stadium just as the Dodger “faithful” were still streaming through the turnstiles, our action now dead.
Baseball’s lack of appeal is hardly new. The last two generations have bascially tuned the game out completely. Television ratings have been declining for years. Not even the big market teams can save the sport anymore — in fact, they never were even capable of doing so. One of the lowest rated series of all time was the all-New York (Yankess-Mets) series back about ten years ago. Last year’s World Series of Baseball drew the lowest numbers of all time.