May 26, 2007
By Brian Gabrielle
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This Sunday is the year's biggest waste of fossil fuel, and I love it.
First comes the Indianapolis 500. It used to be the main course on Memorial Day weekend, something even my grandfather, no racing fan, would tune into every year, even if it wasn't always broadcast live (anyone else remember when they used to air the 500 in the evening? I used to fall asleep on the couch listening to it). If I have to choose between NASCAR and Indy racing, I'll take NASCAR every time, but I'm still shocked every time I see bits of a good Indy race (few and far between these days), because the cars are so incredibly fast and light and small and capable of whipping around one another like mosquitoes. When the 500 is close in the final few laps, it's still one of the most exciting things in sports. Plus, Danica is cute.
Then comes the main event, the reason to cookout on Sunday: the Coke 600 from Charlotte. Seriously, even if you think you hate NASCAR, you should give this event a try. Don't watch the whole thing, because that'll be like five hours. It's a friggin' marathon (well, just over 23 marathons, actually). Just have it on in the background. Check in on it every once in a while. Watch the highlights packages, listen to the bitchy drivers get out of their wrecked cars all cranky and fuming, feel the homespun wisdom of Darrell Waltrip come over you in a redneck wave. Take a nap (like the old days), wake up, find the running order crazily jumbled and inverted. Then watch as the lights come on, the paint schemes get shiny, the racing gets aggressive, and Jimmie Johnson wins. (Because Jimmie Johnson always wins.)
Environmentally friendly, it ain't. But if car racing gets one day on the calendar per year, this is it. I'll be watching, and you should too.
What's your reaction to the NBA Draft Lottery? Oden to Portland and Durant to Seattle...does that help the league? Do you think the lottery is fair?
Bodog Bookmakers, Bodog.com: I was told the top three results via text message and almost dropped my phone. I was shocked, to say the least. The first thought I had was, "Basketball in the Pacific Northwest just got a whole lot better." Adding Oden to Roy, Jack and Aldridge will help the Blazers on the court, not to mention revamping the team from the "Jail Blazers" reputation of the past. If Zack Randolph can keep himself in check, the Blazers should sneak into the seventh or eighth playoff spot next season. Moving a couple hours north, I'm not sure Kevin Durant is enough to keep the Sonics in Seattle. David Stern may say he's committed, but he may just be giving lip service to prevent the Sonics from relocation. I like the current NBA draft lottery format. The problems we saw at the end of the season (as ESPN's Bill Simmons called it "tankapalooza") would have happened with any other draft system other than a true lottery involving all 14 teams. If I were to make a suggestion, I would say have a true lottery with the bottom three teams and another weighted lottery for picks No. 4-14.
It'll be Ottawa vs. Anaheim in the Stanley Cup finals. How do you handicap this one?
BDB, Bodog.com: This is going to be an entertaining series; the Ducks have shown they can play defense and get goals when they need them. J.S. Giguere, along with Chris Pronger and Scott Niedermayer, has done a tremendous job at keeping their opponents off the score sheet. They'll need to do all they can to stop Ottawa's top three of Alfredsson, Spezza and Heatley. The Ducks and Sens didn't play each other in the regular season, so we don't have any head-to-head results to base the odds on. This will come down to defense versus offense, but as the Ducks have home-ice advantage, they'll be favored to win the series.
How much wagering action is there these days on the Indianapolis 500, which is this Sunday? Which racing handle will be bigger that day, the Indy 500 or NASCAR's Coca-Cola 600?
BDB, Bodog.com: The Indy 500 has lost its luster in recent years. Other than Danica Patrick, there aren't many, if any, drivers that non-fans will know. Everyone knows Jeff Gordon and Dale Earnhardt Jr. whether you're a fan of NASCAR or not. We'll probably see double the action on the 600. Sadly, the Indy 500 hurt itself by limiting the race to IRL drivers only. This move leaves some of the best open-wheel drivers in the world on the outside looking in, essentially making what used to be a historic race this just another run around an oval track.
The French Open begins next week. How surprised would you be if we didn't see a Federer / Nadal final?
BDB, Bodog.com: It's pretty much a given we'll see these two in the final. But honestly, who else would you rather see? Federer breaking Nadal's clay court streak has added to his status as the best in the world.