“I’m shocked, shocked to find that gambling is going on here!”
~ Claude Rains as Capt. Louis Renault in Casablanca.
It’s one of my favorite movie scenes ever, and makes me laugh each time it crosses my mind. For the benefit of those who have not seen one of the most famous flicks ever, and even for those who have, Captain Renault’s line is delivered just before a croupier hands him a wad of money and says, “Your winnings, sir.”
There was no shock at all to Monday’s announcement of more suspensions in baseball for performance enhancing drugs. You might not be able to tell that by listening to or reading some of the media reports, but then, this kind of news is exactly what they rely on to feed the hungry masses. It kinda’ reminds me of watching a bird regurgitate into the beaks of her chirping chicks, though that just might be the sort of visual that pops into the heads of people like me who mostly watch baseball games and the Nat-Geo channel.
As a longtime baseball fan, my only feeling is sadness… along with a touch of sadism as I watch and listen to the crapola. Laughing at the people who act as if they didn’t see it coming, laughing at the former players who are now so vehemently and vocally against PEDs in baseball and laughing at anyone who suggests Bud Selig is cleaning up my favorite sport.
Speaking Of Winnings…
Getting back to the gambling aspect of sports, did you know that betting to win $10 each game that the Houston Astros lose, you’d be ahead 45 dollars and change at this point in the season? I bet you didn’t know that, which is why I brought it up. Sports information is my business.
Earning my primary living writing about sports and sports gambling in recent years, my days as a pure fan came to a halt. I’ve still got my favorites — and don’t even get me started about my beloved Texas Aggies with all the shit going on regarding Johnny Manziel — but there has been a desensitization to the whole notion of sports. A couple of sportswriters I looked up to in years past warned me, but did I listen?
The fan in me still comes out a bit on days like Monday. Fortunately, I learned something years ago to help separate the games from the business side, which many friends have told me has become more difficult for them.
Copland & Cooder Great Alternatives to Buck & Kruk
The televisions I’ve purchased the last 30 years or so have all come with this little handheld device commonly called a remote. It’s also known as a fucking remote, as in, “Give me the fucking remote, dear” or “Where’s the fucking remote.” Most of said devices have a button on it labeled MUTE.
Watch an entire game, whatever your pleasure might be, with the sound muted. I dare you. Follow that up by watching the game while some of your favorite music plays in the background. Personally, a baseball matinée listening to Aaron Copland or Ry Cooder is about the most perfect way to spend three hours, maybe toss in a jazz mix that includes Kermit Ruffins, Art Blakey and Diana Krall. Old 70s and 80s funk also comes highly recommended.
Maybe Copland’s Fanfare for Common Man will play as a .250 hitting journeyman outfielder steps to the plate, or a hulking slugger steps to the plate just as Hoedown begins. Check out some collaborations between Cooder and Manuel Galbán which are perfect when David ‘Big Papi’ Ortiz comes to bat.
Seriously, if George Clinton was in a centerfield bar and Alex Rodriguez was at the plate facing Roger Clemens, is there any question where your focus would be? If you answered on the pitch, *BUZZ*, I’m sorry, you lose even though it is a trick question. And if you’re saying to yourself, “This is the first time this guy has ever really talked about sports,” *BUZZ* then I didn’t do a good job getting my message across.
Hopefully the next time you think of A-Rod, Clemens, Mark McGwire, Sammy Sosa, et al, you’ll also picture Selig standing right there beside them, hands in his pockets counting the millions he made off the players along the way. The Looney Tunes cartoon intro is perfect for when Selig is on the screen.
Author: A crotchety old man since his birth during Gen. Eisenhower’s first term as US president, Willie B. Lakey resides in the bee-yoo-tiful Texas Hill Country along with his wife, too many cats and his beloved beer fridge. Employed as an overworked and underpaid freelance sportswriter, his few moments of happiness usually come when communing with critters, tending his garden or sippin’ cold beer and enjoying tunes at Gruene Hall.