Viva Las Vegas…

‘Tis another short week here in Curmudgeon Central as the time approaches for the annual football/baseball/horse racing/dog racing weekend in Las Vegas. If you decided that you wanted to start an annual tradition like the one that my friends and I have created, the time to do it is either in the Fall when there are college and pro football games galore on the weekends or during the very late winter/early spring when college basketball is in full bloom. Whatever you do, choose a time other than late July through late August. Typically, the weather in Las Vegas then has high temperatures around 110 and it will cool off to about 90 by 11:00 at night.

Moreover, I do not want to hear anything about how it is a “dry heat” so you do not feel it as much. Folks, when it is 110 degrees in the shade, it is uncomfortable. Period. End of message.

Surely if there are “triple digits temperatures” outside, you will have to stay in the sportsbook, so the diminished opportunities to watch – - and wager on – - games in the top of the summertime argues for coming when there is more to do in the sportsbook. And that is the deal in mid to late October…

Our preferred venue for the games has become The Mirage sportsbook. Trust me, I am not a shill for The Mirage; they do not pay me a dime in any way shape or form to say that. It is just where we have come to evolve our comfort zone. In the sportsbook there, I would estimate that there are between 25 and 30 television screens showing at least 10 football games at a time along with horse racing and dog racing from every corner of North America – - and horse racing from Australia late at night. College football games will kick off at 9:00AM in Las Vegas and a few of the East Coast tracks will send their first race noble steeds to the post around that same time. From then until about midnite on Saturday when the New Mexico State at Hawaii game is over, there will be continuous live sporting action and wagering opportunities available.

If that is not sufficient “action” for you, nose around a bit and you can find ways to wager on the NHL, who will win the Stanley Cup; who will win the NCAA basketball tournament; who will play in and/or win the Super Bowl; perhaps the Lingerie Football League game of the week and probably who will win the English Premier League Championship whenever that season is over.

There are cocktail waitresses to bring you drinks, nearby eateries that will let you chow down and still watch the action on the myriad TV sets. Oh yes, and rest room facilities are at the ready for those moments when it becomes obvious that you only rented that last beer you drank. If the management would allow it, I would pitch a tent there; pack a toothbrush and some deodorant and never leave the place for the whole weekend. If you have never done this and you do like sports – - LOTS of sports – - think about a weekend in Vegas with friends who also like sports – - LOTS of sports.

#1 son has a PhD in Evolutionary Biology; when asked by friends what that means, I tell them he is a paleontologist because that is the closest I can come to what he does that folks outside that field would relate to. I think I need to ask him if there is such a thing as a “Paranormal Paleontologist”. Let me explain…

Everyone knows from the old Tarzan movies about the “Elephants’ Graveyard” – - the secret place with some kind of magnetic force where old elephants go to die. Well, I am thinking that there is some kind of paranormal attractive force associated with the Twin Cities in Minnesota.

It sure looks as if Minneapolis/St. Paul is where old quarterbacks go to die. Currently, it looks as if Donovan McNabb will “hang ‘em up” there; before that it was Brett Favre last year; then there was Brad Johnson, Randall Cunningham, Warren Moon and Jim McMahon. [That is as far back as my synapses will take me but I think you get the point…] Someone needs to find out if there is something “supra-natural” at work there. We know about the Bermuda Triangle that swallows up ships and aircraft; is there a similar cosmic sinkhole in Minnesota for NFL quarterbacks? Enquiring minds want to know…

There is more uplifting news regarding three other NFL quarterbacks, Tom Brady, Drew Brees and Aaron Rodgers, all of whom are on pace to break Dan Marino’s record for passing yardage in a single season. All three have thrown for more than 2000 yards in six games this season and all three project to break Dan Marino’s record of 5084 yards passing in one season.

Standing fourth in the NFL in passing yardage at the moment is Cam Newton with 1847 yards in 6 games; that is impressive for a rookie to be sure but it “merely” projects to 4925 yards for the season, which would not break the standing record.

Here is a headline from a recent edition of the St. Paul Pioneer-Press:

“Tony Benshoof retires from US luge team”

The story under that headline revealed that Mr. Benshoof had been on the US luge team for 22 years and that he had accumulated 37 medals in various international competitions. That is laudatory and demands respect. Nonetheless, it also demands a Quick Quiz. No Googling allowed:

    How many people are on the US luge team?
    Where does the luge team practice?
    When and where is their next competition?
    Name any other member of the US luge team.

As you might conclude, not even one of those questions was answered in the article that followed the headline I just quoted so I cannot answer any of those questions either…

News reports earlier this week announced that ESPN and Jon Gruden had reached an agreement for him to stay with the network – - and presumably on MNF – - through the 2016 NFL season. NFL players and coaches can breathe a sigh of relief that they will not hear a single syllable of criticism from the MNF booth about their performances – - or lack of performances – - until Jon Gruden’s contract expires.

Finally, here is another observation from Andy Rooney – - the retiring curmudgeon-in-residence at 60 Minutes:

“The dullest Olympic sport is curling, whatever ‘curling’ means.”

But don’t get me wrong, I love sports………

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  • Rich  On October 19, 2011 at 10:31 pm

    Funny you mention The Mirage, Curmudgeon. I spent an evening in a restaurant overlooking the sports book there this past weekend, and I was telling them what a great experience it is for sports fans, whether they wager or not, to be there on a football Saturday or Sunday, and especially during the NCAA basketball tournament. Like many, but not all, locals, I rarely gamble, but the sports books are fun. Have fun, and don’t forget to tip your servers.

  • The Sports Curmudgeon  On October 20, 2011 at 9:57 am


    If the restaurant you mention is the California Pizza Kitchen that overlooks The Mirage sportsbook,that is always the venue for our Sunday dinner since it allows us to follow the games – - and our wagers – - as we eat.

    If I lived in Las Vegas, I would not be someone who made a second home in the sportsbooks either, but you are right about the atmosphere in a sportsbook for a football weekend or for March Madness. I have written several times that real sports fans need to experience that atmosphere at least once in their lifetime even if they don’t bet a nickel.

    Stay well.

  • Rich  On October 21, 2011 at 12:17 am

    It was in fact the restaurant you mention, Curmudgeon, but I didn’t want to give them free advertising in your space. I drank some excellent draft Octoberfest beer while my cousins ate. Sometimes I go into a sports book to catch a Jets game if I can’t get them at home. I saw a wild one in that book that the Jets won.

  • The Sports Curmudgeon  On October 25, 2011 at 11:41 am


    I seriously doubt that the fortunes of California Pizza Kitchen will be affected in any way by their mention or their lack of mention here.

    We dined there on Sunday in the moments between the end of the late afternoon football games and the start of the World Series/Sunday Night Football.

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