I'm a dog person, so I'm not going to go into much detail on this latest Mike Vick hullabaloo.
Suffice it to say that Vick owns a house in Virginia that was the home of a pit-bull-fighting ring, in which macho men wager on which dog will tear which dog to shreds. Yeah, it takes a mighty big man to starve defenseless dogs and then enrage them to the point that they want to kill. Like, I'd put such people on par with Dick Cheney hunting retarded quail and shooting his friend in the face. We're talking major stones here, people.
But how long will Arthur Blank, the Atlanta Falcons, the NFL and ESPN enable this unbelievable punk? From pot in his water bottle's secret compartment to dogs killing one another for sport (to not being able to throw a pass to a wide-open receiver if his life defended on it), Vick is an utter and total embarrassment. And Blank, his boss, has invested so much money hyping Vick as the greatest player in the NFL (hint: he's not in the top 40) that he can't turn back now. He's like that sad roulette player over in the corner, throwing down stack after stack of chips on #7 on the assumption that it just has to hit eventually, and how can he leave behind so much of the money he's already lost?
ESPN, in particular, should be ashamed. The Stuart-Scottification of pro athletes may not have been born on its cable-waves, but ESPN glorifies punk athletes like Vick to an unbelievable degree, yet when a story like the dog-fighting farm breaks, they sweep it under the rug until it becomes too big to ignore. For a company that prides itself on breaking news, ESPN has a blind side the size of Refrigerator Perry for the players it's anointed as "its guys."
If you believe it was "wayward relatives" who ran the dog-fighting ring, and that Vick had "no idea" what was happening at a house he owns, I've got a bridge in Brooklyn I'd like to sell you. Am I maintaining that Vick directly ran the dog ring? No. But to say he didn't know anything, to say there isn't a pattern of suspect behavior, to say he hasn't surrounded himself with the "thug life" to the detriment of everyone around him including his fans and employers? That's just naïve.
How completely shocked are you about the Dallas Mavericks' first-round departure from the NBA playoffs? Suddenly either Utah or Golden State is going to be in the NBA's final four! Do you think either of those teams has a legitimate shot at a title? Who benefits most from the Mavs' debacle?
Bodog Bookmakers, Bodog.com: Wow! Everyone loves an upset, and there were few if any bigger than what we witnessed in Oakland. Baron Davis was unconscious; Steven Jackson focused his rage and gave a career performance in the clinching game. It was hard not to feel for Avery Johnson. The fourth quarter couldn't tick down fast enough for him considering the fact his mentor Don Nelson gave him one final lesson on how to win a basketball game. Two weeks ago I would have said neither team had a chance in the Western Conference finals, but with Davis and Jason Richardson healthy, the Warriors are clearly a force to be reckoned with.
Being thrown into the fire has forced Utah's young players to mature very quickly. The Jazz have a chance, considering Carlos Boozer is dominating and Deron Williams is running a very effective offense. Utah or Golden State could possibly sneak by whichever team survives the Spurs-Suns series, but unlike the fi rst round, they won't be surprising anyone. Who benefits most from the upset? The Spurs and the Suns must be licking their lips at the possibility of facing the Jazz or the Warriors in the conference finals despite their overachieving performances so far.
What was the wagering like for the Mayweather/De La Hoya fight last weekend? Was it heavy? Who did the public favor? And how was Mayweather's split-decision win for the books?
BDB, Bodog.com: The wagering on the Mayweather De La Hoya fight was on par with the BCS championship game. It was easily the biggest fight in our history. The betting was as close as the fight itself. The public favored Mayweather to win the fight, but we took a lot of De La Hoya action on the exact result props to even things out. This fight was booked very well and we were in a good position regardless of the result.
Does Roger Clemens signing with the Yankees change absolutely everything about the way you view the AL East?
BDB, Bodog.com: This definitely caught a few people off guard, myself included. I was convinced Clemens would join whichever team was in first place in search of one final World Series before he finally calls it a career. The AL East has been about the Yankees and Red Sox for the last decade, though the Blue Jays made a little noise last year. However, after losing six straight, the Jays join the other also-rans in the basement of the East.
What does it mean for the books when a not-so-favored favorite like Street Sense wins a big race like the Kentucky Derby? Normally, you'd think it wouldn't be a great result for the books when a favorite comes through, but was that the case last Saturday?
BDB, Bodog.com: We'll see a lot of casual fans take the mid-favorites, as they know enough to not go with the favorite, but are afraid of the odds on the true long shots. Street Sense's win wasn't bad for us, but we would have preferred Curlin to take it, or a Giacomo-type upset from Sam P. or Zanjero.