March Madness Closing
It is one of my favorites and does a good job of capturing why college basketball rivals the Super Bowl when it comes to betting. And as far as excitement, well the four days surpassed the pro football championship a long time ago.
LAS VEGAS The father-daughter annual March Madness trip got off to a great start when we arrived Thursday at the Race & Sports Book at Mandalay Bay.
The daughter, Miss Radio Personality, was wearing a pink T-shirt with a picture of a dog and a young girl, the girl telling the dog, Sit. Stay. Find me a boyfriend. It was certainly better than the sandwich board I’d suggested.
We checked in with «Tom» and based on our experiences I’d urge everyone to check in with Tom and let him know you’re related to Donald Trump, because he took us to a private suite with 10 TVs and windows looking out to the big-screen TVs in the sports book, separating us from the common folk.
A security guard, who didn’t buy the Trump story, eventually agreed to tell everyone looking in on us from the outside that I was a Microsoft VP, very rich, which made Miss Radio Personality very rich, and yes, she was still available.
It was 8: 30 a. m. and the room was already packed with young men, leaving one with the impression that when they entered they were required to dip one hand in crazy glue and then grab a beer bottle.
Up on the big TV screen, which dominated the room, the first game was about to begin, Seton Hall playing Wichita State. In the background, the arena in supposedly basketball-crazy North Carolina appeared to be nearly empty, while it was bedlam inside Mandalay Bay.
On the opening tip, someone shouted over the din, Shoot the ball I suggested to Miss Radio Personality she might want to switch to water for a while.
Later, when Tennessee scored at the buzzer to win, CBS Kevin Harlan exclaimed on one of our private TVs, «Where did he get the courage to take that shot?» That there were only 2. 9 seconds remaining when Tennessee got the ball and the guy had no choice but to shoot, it reminded me how lucky we are to have Rex Hudler working Angel games.
Thirteen hours later, Day 1 was over, and while betting $11 on each of the 16 games for the benefit of Mattel Children’s Hospital at UCLA, I went 6-9-1 for a net loss of $39.
- SIXTEEN MORE games Friday, a record of 3-13 against the spread, a net loss of $113, and I wonder how the hospital staff would feel about making a donation to the Simers Family Fund.
- ON DAY 3, I went to Scott Ghertner for advice. Obviously, I was desperate. Ghertner looks just like Michael J. Fox, and has the job of promoting the MGM Mirage. He obviously has a lot of time to just sit around given MGM Mirage’s popularity. I have no idea why they’re even paying the guy unless they just want their customers to think Fox is in the building.
- One day while doing nothing, and I don’t know how people like Ghertner and Dwyre get jobs like this, he said he found just the right time to bet the «over» on the combined score of both teams in the first half.
- Sometimes I listen to what Dwyre has to say. So I gave it a try. I made two selections of my own, which I went on to win, and all Gonzaga and Indiana had to do according to Ghertner was combine for more than 69 1/2 points in the first half. If they did, I’d win a three-team parlay, which would allow me to buy a beer for every unmarried guy in the room, have the daughter deliver it and who knows.
- Gonzaga scored 38 in the first half. Indiana 31. And I can tell you, because I insisted on a recount, when you add it up, the Fox look-alike was just a little bit short as you’d expect.
- ADD UP the price of a hotel room for four nights, airfare, meals, $177 in losses betting $11 on each of the 40 games played to date, and if the daughter does meet someone, and I have to pay for a wedding, I’m sure The Times will give me a raise.
- A FEW days ago, Cary Justmann e-mailed: «I’m a huge Dodgers fan from Ankeny, Iowa, which is why I read The Times, and I will also be taking up residence at the Mandalay Bay this weekend. If Iowa loses to Northwestern State, I’ll donate $100 to the Children’s Hospital»
- Northwestern State won by a point, and give the guy big-time credit, he found me at Mandalay Bay to make good on his promise and donate to the hospital.
- BEFORE THE madness began, I matched brackets with P. L. Walker, bookmaker for the MGM Mirage Race & Sports Book operations, and we disagreed on 18 of the first 48 games.
- Walker, also known as Robert Walker to the friend he has and he swears there is one agreed to take $500 of his money and send it to Mattel’s if he fared worse than I did, thereby certifying him a Proven Loser.
- It appears, though, with one day remaining, he’s already been Proven Lucky, winning our wager, although a claim of foul has been lodged. I find this usually works to the benefit of the Children’s Hospital.
- P. L. predicted Marquette would beat UCLA in the second round, and I checked and Marquette had gone home, which was going to make that kind of difficult. I know some people who bet on Marquette because of what P. L. had said.
- It’s just my dislike for UCLA P. L. admitted, and after I cited a little-known March Madness rule that prohibits bookmakers from getting emotional and dismissing UCLA prematurely, Walker agreed to match Page 2’s $500 donation to the hospital.
Personally, it was an awakening, because I never took bookmakers for having any heart before.