Friday, March 31, 2006
The plan as of now is pretty low key, so that may bode well for the J-Man's stomach. I'll provide a recap of some of the highlights...with the exception of Scott receiving an "Unhappy Gorilla" from a stripper...when I get back on Monday. Enjoy your weekends.
And, yes, I just made up the term "Unhappy Gorilla" as I was writing, but I have some ideas of what it could be, and it's filthy.
Tuesday, March 28, 2006
-We arrived at the airport at 9:30 PM, and the four of us are already pretty shitfaced after providing our own beverages during the flight (not sure if that's legal?). I checked my bag, which drew rave reviews from the other guys as we had to wait for it, but I wasn't about to carry that shit around with me all day.
-After a quick cab ride, we're at the Mandalay Bay and the room situation is squared away. It's off to the tables. I should have protested playing at these tables since they have the immediate autoshuffler (not even a full shoe before it shuffles), which I never seem to do well on, but unfortunately I was too drunk to care. And that's where the problems began.
-After floating at one table with my initial $200 for a while, I switched tables to play with some of the other guys. The bad news is that I colored out and with only two black chips ($100 each), I felt it was in my best interests to bet one of them on my first hand at the new table. Unfortunately, I won. Yes, I said "Unfortunately, I won". You see if I had lost, perhaps my drunken mind would have seen the error of this bet and stopped me early. Sadly, this was not the case and soon I was down $600. Did I mention that a pimp came down and sat next to me at the table and referred to the black chips as the "Soul Brother Chips?"
-I left the table in disgust and went over to the craps area with Bristow, who gave me a quick lesson. After watching for a while, I joined in. With the help of the dealers (who were pretty nice, so I was tipping well), I won back about $220 of the blackjack money I had lost...and called it a night at 4:30 AM (nearly 24 hours after I had woken up that day)
-For some reason, waking up at 8 AM seemed OK, and after a shower and a trip to McDonald's, it was time to wander the strip. We walked to New York, New York and had a round of beers at the ESPNZone and then walked a little further down to the Monte Carlo to look for nice cheap blackjack tables. We found a $5 table but it only slowed the losing, as we were all down soon enough. A second day of transitioning to craps saved the afternoon and it was back to the Mandalay Bay and House of Blues for some grub. Everything is still going pretty smoothly, nothing too crazy to speak of.
-And then something really weird happens. I really won't go into details because it may cause one of my readers to curl up in a ball and cry, so I'll just leave it at this. TWO DRAGONS!
-After wandering out of this debacle, things only headed down hill, and here's where I'll just throw some quick notes at you.
- We went to Aladdin to play craps and soon I was being heckled by complete strangers thanks to the support of my friends, who didn't like my ability to throw winning dice.
- We lucked out into having a friend who could get us into the Foundation Bar on the roof of the Mandalay Bay, so we headed up there for some drinks...and some Jager Bombs...and some more drinks...and another round of Jager Bombs...and then I excused myself and headed to the bathroom. Luckily, a false alarm but when I returned, my nearly full drink had disappeared. I asked the bartender what happened to it and she looked down the bar and saw a full drink a ways down. Had I been more sober, I would have realized that I had never stood at that part of the bar, and perhaps her shrugging as she handed it to me should have been my tip that bad times were to come. After a quick swig, I "informed" her that it was not my drink...but she was nice enough to pour me another one. Maybe she should have cut me off instead.
- Fast forward to another blackjack table (why did I go in my state) where I changed in $200 more dollars and when I went to grab my stack of chips had them spill in front of me. What I didn't realize is that the stack was so tall that I didn't even grab all the chips and I accidently left $75 of it (3 quarter chips) sitting on the table, which promptly got dealt a losing hand. Maybe I should go to bed? NOPE
- I find my buddies and we wander (truly the best word for this) around the Mandalay Bay wherein Eddo has two of the most ridiculous encounters of the trip.
- A huge breasted latina woman walks by, to which Eddo states loud enough for all to hear, "Yeah, those aren't real" Of course, she hears this and comes right up to him, apparently pissed. A quick save by Pogue and Eddo is smoothing things out. Smoothing them out so well that the next thing I notice is that she is asking Eddo to feel her fake breasts and yelling at him for not squeezing them like a man. I swear it looked like he was testing out some new furniture, the way he turned to me and Pogue and nodded, "why yes, these do feel nice."
- After this exchange, Eddo is beaming and when three ladies walk by, he asks them where they're heading off to. To which he got this reply, "I don't know, but you should go to bed." You know what, I think she's right...and I'm off to bed.
-I wake up in disgust, realizing that I am now down $1100 and still thinking back to the Two Dragons. There's only one way to make myself feel better...In and Out Burger.
-OK, I was wrong about that. Three days of drinking and eating garbage have caught up to me and the patrons of the Excalibur Casino bathroom paid the price after we walked back.
-Back to the tables...and we start with blackjack, where we get the casino to switch an empty table from $25 to $10, since we were going to fill the table. It is now 11:30 AM.
-The table is going pretty well for everyone but Eddo, who is down over $2000 on the trip and can't seem to catch a break. He is FAR from done though. The same can not be said for Mike, who has been sucking back Bud Lights like it is his job and has regressed to the brain capacity of a small infant. Here's Mike every five minutes: He has a twelve and takes a hit. He pulls a 3, so he takes a second hit. This time he pulls a 9, so the dealer jokingly covers the 3 to make it look like he has 21. Mike gets excited...then sadly disappointed when she shows him the 3 again. Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twenty times, I need to go to bed. This is a constant joke for the table as I turn to Mike and "disappear" by covering my face with my hands. It is now only 3 PM.
-I win a bit at this table, then move on to play some craps...where I lose it right back. We've spent way too long here and decide we should head back to the Mandalay Bay, after we eat a cheap dinner of Pizza Hut and Manchu Wok. It is now about 5:30 PM.
-Mike has gone to bed. Eddo is still playing blackjack at the same table. And Langley, Bristow, Pogue and I have regressed to the point that we are sitting in the corner of the Mandalay Bay bar, discussing who our black celebrity equivalent is. Here's what we came up with, with much debate: Me - Orlando Jones or Martin Lawrence; Langley - Biz Markie (he hates me for this one); Pogue - Bernie Mac; Bristow - Wesley Snipes (my suggestion) or Ving Rames or the guy who loses his starting running back position and Halle Berry to Omar Epps in "The Program."
This is what happens to you when you spend three days in Vegas. And Eddo is still sitting in the Excalibur playing blackjack.
Monday, March 27, 2006
That bet is the "Field" bet. It is a one time bet wherein you throw any amount of money on it and if the following numbers roll, you win: 2, 3, 4, 9, 10, 11, 12. It pays double for the 2 and triple for the 12, with the others being even money payouts. At first, you would think this is a sucker's bet because the easiest numbers to throw are the 6, 7, 8, of which I placed many Come bets on or simple place bets on. But then I thought about it, here's the breakdown, I think:
To throw a 2, 3, 11 or 12, there's only one way each...so that makes four chances.
To throw a 4, 9 or 10, there are two ways to throw each (i.e. 1+3 and 2+2 for four)...so that adds six more chances.
So there are 10 ways to win this bet.
On the opposite side:
To throw a 6, 7, or 8, there are three ways to throw each (i.e. 1+5, 2+4, 3+3 for six)...so that makes nine chances to win.
There are two ways to throw a 5...so that adds two more chances.
So there are 11 ways to lose this bet.
So, in total, you have a 10 out of 21 chance of winning, or 47.6%, plus there's a 9.5% chance (2 out of 21) that you'll win more than even money.
Compare this with someone betting on black in a roulette game. There you've got 18 black numbers, where you can win, and 18 red numbers where you'll lose. Plus you've got either a '0' or a '00' in there too. If a table has both, that means you have an 18 out of 38 chance of winning or 47.4% chance...and a 0% chance of winning more than even money.
So, now I know, and I pass this piece of info on to you.
Never bet on black again.
Oh, and here's another piece of advice...beer is not your friend at the tables, even if it is free.
Needless to say, I'm pretty beat up right now as I'm wrapping up here at work with my only plan being to go home and sleep. I'll give you a more in depth analysis of the weekend tomorrow.
Wednesday, March 22, 2006
For the Round of 16 and then Elite 8.
My bags were packed, three nights I would stay,
Next stop for those bags is the Mandalay Bay.
It's almost 11 and soon I'll be in bed,
With visions of blackjacks and covering the spread.
Let's not forget roulette and possibly craps,
And of course there's the Captain and whatever's on tap.
As I doze off to sleep, I can just hear the ringing,
It sure ain't Santa, it's old people winning.
They love the slots, though I'll steer clear,
But who am I to judge, it's all good here.
I'll sit for six hours and try to get comped,
But that bastard at the Palms will stiff me again and I'll have to pay for a steak and eggs with cash...which really sucks.
That last part didn't rhyme, but it really got me pissed,
Just think of all the fun that most of you missed.
Then it's on to the pool, my favorite place to be,
Because someone else is cleaning it, yep, not me.
I'll take in the rays as well as the view,
Don't try and judge me, you know you will too.
So wish me Bon Voyage as I head on my trip,
New Christmas for me is right on The Strip.
Where it's beer and sun and a gambler's delight,
So without further ado, I bid you good night.
Sunday, March 19, 2006
With such a wide range of tasks to handle in my typical day, I think I've sort of taken for granted the fact that I am a "professional" within my particular industry. It's odd but I still see myself as J-Man, the guy who has a girlfriend, dog and cat at home, went to a liberal arts school, and hangs out with his buddies playing sports and drinking beers every week. And when I'm out on a job doing the work, it's just the J-Man trying to get the task done to the best of my abilities. But, then it dawns on me...I am also an expert in my field and when someone calls me out to their pool, they are doing so because they don't know how to do something that I do.
I know this all sounds very simple and basic, and maybe I'm not quite explaining it well enough, but when I'm done with a job and I look at the work I've done, I'm usually proud of what I've done, but I always ask myself in the back of my head, "What would a professional have done here?"
Now, maybe I'm alone in this line of thinking, but it lead me to ask myself recently, "What is a professional job?" And "Does anyone ever feel like they've accomplished it, or are we always thinking that we're just a typical guy (or girl) doing it to the best of our abilities and wondering what this fictitious 'professional' would have done differently?"
Perhaps it's this 'professional' that keeps us driven in our own work and our own lives to continue to do better, even though we may only catch him once and a while in that level of perfection in what we are capable of doing.
And last week, I think I finally caught him.
Saturday, March 18, 2006
Sadly, this time around I'm gonna have to wait til the Sweet 16 to do my Vegas gambling, as I won't be leaving until this Thursday, and I'll have a build up post sometime this week I'm sure.
Since I wasn't in Vegas the last two days, I had to do my gambling online. Last year, this didn't turn out too well for me and as you've been reading, my luck hasn't been that great lately, but this year I had some insider knowledge. I would have shared it with you earlier, but you might have changed the lines. So, sorry, you're loss. Here's the insider tip...bet on black..and red. Yep, the black and red of the Fighting Wildcats of my alma mater, Davidson College.
The 'Cats were matched up against Ohio State in a first round game, and the crafty veterans of Davidson were certainly not going to roll over like Belmont or some shit like that. Davidson went undefeated in the Southern Conference last year, only to lose in the tournament and go to the NIT. Oh yeah, and there they won their first two games only to fall to Maryland after leading by as much as 16. Now, they were a year older, only lost one player, and came off a schedule that included games against UNC, Duke, Syracuse, Charlotte, St. Joe's, Missouri, UMass, and of course, a Southern Conference Tournament Championship.
So what do the generous people of Sportsbook.com put them at...10.5 point underdogs. Sign me up.
The 'Cats fought hard, and even had a 4 point lead at the half. Could this turn out as only the 5th ever #15 over #2? Unfortunately, the perimeter game for OSU picked it up in the second half, allowing their big man to become a presence, while Davidson, and their star shooting guard, Brendan Winters, struggled to make a basket. The result was a 70-62 loss and an elimination for the Wildcats and an end for four of their best players collegiate careers.
In watching this game, I realized why college basketball is so popular. Why fans of college sports are the most fanatic of them all...me included. It's because we were a part of this. I went to this school. I watched these guys play (well, not these particular guys) and cheered their shots and saw them walking around campus and hanging out at our parties. And it is because of that, that I recognize how amazing it is for a school of 1700 people (of which, I used to be one), where we could walk into the game at any point and sit right behind the bench, and where most of the players will be bankers or lawyers after graduation to be matching up against a school that fills 50,000 seat stadiums for their football program and has sent Michael Redd and Jim Jackson on to the NBA.
And I was and am a part of that. And always will be. You just don't get that with a pro team.
And you don't get $100 for betting on Davidson covering the spread. Hell yeah!
Tuesday, March 14, 2006
Therefore, in an attempt to help those of you with fantasy drafts still looming, here are my boom and bust picks for 2006:
Players to Avoid:
5. Josh Beckett - He's gonna have a lot of hype behind him now that he's playing with the big boys in the AL East. That hype is your worst nightmare. Most pitchers have a terrible time switching from the NL to the AL and going from the pitcher-friendly NL East to the pitcher-deadly AL East is reason enough to leave Beckett to some Beantown homer.
4. Barry Bonds - He was on my list last year and didn't fail to prove me right. This year shouldn't be as bad of an issue, but I wouldn't be surprised to see him quit playing in the middle of the season if the Giants fall out of contention...sighting a lack of desire. Steer clear.
3. Felix Hernandez - The kid is still a good pickup in keeper leagues, but I would avoid him in the one and done leagues. He's not gonna get the amount of innings you want for the pick you're gonna have to use to get him, and ALL young pitchers hit bumps early on...I don't care how much of a phenom he is. Check back on him in 2007-2008.
2. Gary Sheffield - I've just got a bad feeling about Sheff this year. I don't think he was too pleased with the antics that occurred in the off-season and when he's in a bad mood, you can expect the "injuries" to pop up and the stats to drop down. If you love the Yankees, there are plenty of others to choose from.
1. Chase Utley - Don't believe the hype. In some circles this guy is considered a first round pick. Yes, he's the magical age of 27, but stud players don't hit lefties as bad as this guy does. It's gonna bring his stats down and you'll be sitting with a 1st or 2nd round pick who's batting .260-80-15-60-8. Not terrible for a second basemen, but terrible for a second player. You'd be better off taking Placido Polanco six rounds later.
And now, the picks to click:
5. Shawn Chacon - You may be able to grab this guy with one of your last picks and he could turn out to be the best pitcher on the Yankees this season. It's hard to gauge how good a pitcher can be when he plays his entire career in Colorado, but he's only 28 and he had a strong showing with the Yankees at the end of last season. He's certainly gonna get run support, and you could do a lot worse. I'd put him at a very generous 15 Wins, 150K, 3.80 ERA, 1.30 WHIP.
4. Travis Bowyer - Here's my cinderella pick for the year. He's a closer-to-be sitting down in Florida behind (or next to) Joe Borowski. He definitely has the stuff to close and will likely be the next along the lines of Lidge-F.Rodriguez-Ryan as a setup man with high Ks converted to full-time closer. Take a flier on him, or his AL counterpart Rafael Soriano (yes, I said it), and enjoy the Ks until the saves start flowing in. (I took them both in my keeper league). I'd expect 2 Wins, 17 SV, 75K, 2.50 ERA, 1.20 WHIP.
3. Jimmy Rollins - He was one of my second half picks to click and he did not let me down. This guy is the complete package and he's only getting better. Think about all the hype Carl Crawford gets, then put him at a more scarce position. He'll be a first round pick next year, so grab him in the 2nd or 3rd this year while you still can. I'm predicting a silly line of .300-120-18-70-45.
2. Ryan Howard - Yes, another Philly. This guy is the real deal and a 40-HR season is easily within his grasp. If you've already had an auction, you probably got in as low as possible, because his stock is rising every day he adds to his Spring Training homerun tally. Let's say he'll go around .275-85-38-95-0 this year.
1. Adrian Beltre - Most people in your league have probably had Beltre at some point in the past, and are going to be very bitter about this guy after all the bad seasons he's produced, then the one monster, followed by last year's less than stellar outing. But he's turning 27 this year...yes, the magical age. So, you've got a guy who's been in the league a while and disappointed on most occassions but is about to turn 27. I've heard of a guy like this...last year's number one pick, Andruw Jones. Lightning will strike again. Grab this guy and expect numbers close to my Howard projections.
And those are my fantasy baseball picks for this year. I'll have to check back in July and see how I'm doing at the halfway point.
Sunday, March 12, 2006
- The bad luck continued as some guys came by today to clean my gutters, since they saw they were really clogged while they were working next door. After getting up there to clean them out, they noticed that some of the wood that the gutters are attached to had rotted and the nails were popping out. Luckily, they would just need to drive new nails into the unrotted sections of wood. But wait, the caulking was also bad and needed to be redone. Sweet...here's $175. We're now up to $1919 for the bad luck streak. (The other four is from another poker loss yesterday afternoon)
- Yesterday, while walking home from Adam's Morgan after a night of drinking, I came up with a brilliant idea for my buddy Scott's bachelor party in NYC, which is in three weeks. Mind you, I was drunk when I thought of this, so bear with me. He will partake in a "scavenger hunt" that will include things such as carrying open condoms, naked pictures from a porn magazine, and other dumb stuff. This will not actually be scavenged for, this is merely to give some credibility to the real goal...seeing boobs and butts. Now that he has "completed" these portions of the scavenger hunt, all that remains is....having his picture taken next to a pair of random boobs and buttcheeks. Having seen a bachelorette party do the opposite thing, I feel we might have a chance. And the key is, we're not going to set a clear number of boobs and/or buttcheeks that must be photographed, though I'm thinking the total may be somewhere around the 0 range, though we may get a few pictures of my buddy getting slapped, which might be just as good. Uh, no. No, it isn't.
- When I arrived home last night, my girlfriend was still out following the bridal shower for her co-worker, Crystal. So I decided to fry myself up some chicken fingers since I wouldn't be disturbing anybody (hot oil + drunken person = good times). Thankfully, I did not burn the place down...only the roof of my mouth. However, when Amy and her gay co-worker arrived back at our place, I had this classic exchange.
Me: So what did you do tonight babe? (slurring, more than likely)
Amy: We finished dinner and then headed to Crystal's place since some of the people were being lame and didn't want to go out.
Me: Really, why not?
Amy: They were just complaining that they were tired and wanted to just go home.
Me: That shit is gay!
Me: Woops. Uh, sorry Sean.
Friday, March 10, 2006
I get to work this morning to find that my cell. phone has been shut off because somehow Sprint...together with Nextel...has botched our billing address somehow and we haven't gotten, and therefore haven't paid for the bill in two months. I love how they just shut off your service and force you to call them, rather than simply call you to request payment on an overdue invoice. Luckily, I'm back up now.
But merely an hour after this fiasco, my brother is outside trying to attach some automatic pool cover track to the top of one of our trucks and asks for my help. I go out to help him and after we hoist the track onto the roof rack, he decides to scale the back of the truck to get on top. Of course he does this by pointing his foot right onto the back window and pushing off to pull himself up...and in pops the window. FUCK!!
And I assume I failed to mention before that one of my other employees backed this same truck into the bottom of our warehouse garage door, tearing off the bottom of the wood, shattering a pane of glass in the door, causing us to call a repair company in to fix it. Of course, they came and fucked the door up even more, after replacing all the bearings, which didn't need to be fixed in the first place. So now I have a door with a broken spring (they broke it), a broken bottom panel (they broke the one that they brought to replace the one we broke), a new broken pane of glass (they broke it when the spring broke) and they haven't been back all week to fix this problem.
So I'm now without $1740 from poker and Infiniti, without cell. phone service, without a back window in one of my trucks, and without a functional bay door three weeks before the start of my busy season.
Did I mention I'm going to Vegas in two weeks?
Thursday, March 09, 2006
The bad luck began to show itself last night at my regular poker game. I hadn't been playing all that well, but I was holding my own through the first game when an opportunity arose where I could put one of the other guys all in. I took the shot and he called after the flop. We flipped our cards to show that I had a substantial lead and it would take some amazing luck...bad in my case, for him to pull this one out. Needless to say, I got cut in half on a terrible river card and scrambled to try and regroup.
I pulled together a couple good hands, but still sat with a significantly smaller stack than the others. My time had come to make a move, I had an ace and after the flop only crappy cards were showing. I made the bold all in move, hoping to take the first round's worth of betting and walk away, but the last guy to bet called me...with an 9-6 of hearts, with two hearts showing. I had the lead, but he was on a draw. Turn was not a heart or a pair for anyone...and then came the river...Ace of hearts. Truly a slap in the face card...and I was out.
More of the same in the second game, eventually getting beaten out by the same guy (Edwin, the Call Station). We both sat as the big and small blinds, and the flop came out 8-6-3, all different suits. I held the big blind special 8-6 off suit and figured there was no better time to go all in. Edwin promptly called (no shit) and flipped over 8-10 off suit. Turn was like a 7 and I called my own shot as the 10 flipped on the River and I went home...frightened by my extraordinary bad luck.
Thankfully, I did not get in a car accident or something on the way home, but I might as well have, as I took my car to the Infiniti dealer this morning to have my tires and brakes looked at, since the tires seemed worn and the brakes were kinda squeaking. And then I got the call...barely an hour ago.
"Mr. J-Man, it looks like you're gonna need new front brake pads and rotors, and all four of your tires need to be replaced. We'd also recommend an alignment with that. The total cost is gonna be about $1700 for all this work."
Guess I should call my doctor now, so I can make an appointment for him to tell me I have cancer.
Friday, March 03, 2006
Another weekend without any pussy.
Thursday, March 02, 2006
I understand the logic around a salary cap and the idea that by keeping all the teams at approximately the same financial level, even the smaller market teams can compete each and every year. One can only look at baseball as a prime example of a league where the lack of a salary cap has made many teams (Milwaukee, Tampa Bay, Kansas City) nearly unwatchable. However, is football really that similar to baseball?
When I think about football, I would consider it the closest thing to a true "team" sport you can find. With baseball, a dominant pitcher alone can dramatically change the outcome of a team's record. Basketball is even more skewed towards an individual. With football, however, I really don't feel that that is necessarily the case. Obviously, better players are going to make a team more "skilled", but the Patriots and Steelers have proven that it is not necessarily about having the best players to be the Super Bowl Champion. On the other side of that coin, the Redskins under their first few years with Dan Snyder signed the "best" players and fell right on their face.
The point I am getting at is that each team consists of 22 players (more than baseball, hockey, and basketball) who must all work together to form a cohesive unit in order to succeed. Skill is important, but teamwork and communication is even more key. In addition to that, one must also look into the length of the schedule.
For basketball, baseball and hockey, you have significantly longer seasons. It doesn't take a genious to figure out that over a longer season, the more talented teams are going to rise to the top. Yes, a less talented team can beat them once or twice, but not 5-10 times. With football, you get 16 games total, and every one of them is important...just ask the Chargers and Chiefs. If the Royals played in a 16 game season, I bet you they might be a playoff team every once and a while. Check the standings on April 20 and see who's going to the playoffs. Hell, didn't the D-Rays beat the Yankees in the season series last year? And this isn't taking into consideration injuries.
So why do I mention these points? Simple. If the biggest drawback to an NFL without a salary cap is that teams (like the Redskins) would throw their big market money around and get all the best players, thus making certain teams non-competetive, I don't think that argument is valid.
But with no salary cap, the player's salaries would continue to rise to ridiculously high levels, what about that? Good for them. I don't know if any of you guys saw Any Given Sunday (I'm sure you all did), but the doctor hit the nail on the head in describing these guys. When an offensive lineman or a running back (plus the others) ends his career, he still has to go on living with the pain his career inflicting on him...for the rest of his life. I read an article that discussed the physics behind an NFL hit, and a direct comparison was falling off a 4 or 5 story building onto pavement or some shit like that...not sure about the facts, but it was bad. If someone is gonna put their body through that and go on living with pain and horrible arthritis all for other people's entertainment, shit, pay the man millions upon millions of dollars.
But the ticket prices would continue to rise, prohibiting the common family from attending a game, what about that? I always love this argument when people talk about all sports. Have you been to a game recently? It's already that way. Corporations and other businesses buy up all the good tickets, and even the crappy seats are over $20 each. That's why I go to Union Jack's to watch the games. Trust me, it's actually just as good of an experience...25% off burgers and appetizers!
So, I've vented my thoughts, I'm sure some of you guys are gonna disagree with me, and that's fine. But when guys such as long time Cowboy La'Roi Glover and long time Colt Edgerrin James, among others, are forced to change teams because of salary cap restrictions, something just ain't right. Toss the cap...they've got 3 more days, make it happen.