What about the game?
So which network do I go after first, Fox or ESPN? Getting many letters urging me to go forward in my crusade against network idiocy, equally divided between antagonists of both super-powers. Think I'll do the ESPN thing first because the e-mailers in that camp are more passionate; the Foxies seem to be merely annoyed.
First my E-mailer of the Week, who, unfortunately, did not include a last name, but his is one of the few missives I ever got that had me laughing out loud ... the Flaming Redhead, too.
He goes on a bit longer, but this is the essence of it. The Falcons-Giants game set a record for
Now I'm not going to knock Jimmy Kimmel. I think he's a pretty funny guy, and I used to love the
And in answer to your praise of
OK, we've had our fun. Now we're going to get serious. The Trap Formula of Handicapping. Here's a sociological observation. The good, honest e-mailers who obeyed the rules and punched in the little thing the Web site recommended didn't have much to say about this system of mine that took up so much space in my Rankings column. But the sneaks, the closet bettors and gambling degennies, figured out a way to penetrate the in-house
Being a liberal democrat, I will answer all questions from healthy and unhealthy alike. So my rather lengthy explanation of The Formula, which I have done, oh maybe a dozen times in the last decade, will be dedicated to the following:
The basis of my theory is that the oddsmakers in Vegas, who know more than all of us, set traps each week -- games that look so enticing, regarding the line, that the bulk of the gambling public is suckered into betting a certain way. I call those games Trap Games, and when I spot one that looks like one of them, I go against every yutz in the barbershop that's rushing to bet on what they feel is an easy choice, and pick against them, or with the smart guys, figuring that the mass of the public usually is wrong. My theory could also be called the Ugly Team theory. I love unpopular teams, ugly ducklings.
My reasoning is as follows: When you look at those handicapping boxes in the papers, why is the consensus so often below .500 for the season? I mean half a dozen old ladies with hatpins are going to hit the guessing average of .500. Why can't the so-called experts? Because I believe that they have the same mentality as the suckers in the barbershop, raised a few degrees. None of them, or myself, are/is as smart as the guys who set the price. Everyone out there will tell you that bookies make their money off the vig, the vigorish, the juice ... the 10 percent that gamblers have to pay on losing bets, but I feel that the real money is made on traps.
Once I bounced this theory off
You set your own line before the official one comes out. I do it on Sunday night of the previous week. Then you check it against the official line. Usually I'm pretty close, but if something varies from mine by three or more points, I turn around and pick their way, against my own number, in other words. I figure I've fallen into the trap.
Case in point -- I set my line for Tampa Bay at Detroit as Bucs, coming off that victory over Tennessee, favored by a point. The game opened at Lions favored by one. OK, I'm still two points away, so it's not yet a trap game. But shortly thereafter it went to two, then 2 ½, in other words 3 ½ points away from my line. Then it became a trap and a formula pick for me. So I turned around and went against my own opinion and selected Detroit in the magazine when I wrote my little story late Sunday night. In other words, if I had reasoned ... well, I like Tampa Bay a lot better than they do, so that's who I'll pick, I'd have fallen into the trap. But instead I went with the "they," the trapmakers, the ones who had made the Lions a favorite.
When I mentioned that the Trap Formula is 13-7 this season, I meant against the spread, not the straight up picking I do for the magazine. It's been pretty good so far. Sometimes it's not so good, but over the last 10 years it's around 58 percent. The weakness of it is that subjective judgment is involved, and no system is any good, really, if anything subjective is counted in. Sometimes I'm afraid I set my own price by trying to think of what Vegas will come out with, rather than what I think it really ought to be. I have to guard against that.
Personally, I don't bet. The downside potential is too great. It probably would cost me my job, and I like what I do. Conflict of interest could be cited ... how can you write impartially about a team when you've got money riding on it? How indeed?
He mentions that no foul was called, and asks if the players themselves will put out a contract on Williams to stop him from doing what the league obviously can't.
The play he mentions is a 28-yard post that Watson caught on Williams in the second quarter. I didn't notice anything particularly outrageous at the time, and my tape didn't show it, either, which doesn't mean it didn't happen. I will watch Roy Williams more carefully in the future. What bothers me is that the league keeps handing out fines that drew no flag at the time. I really don't think the game officials do a good job of watching for the crippling hits. The league has taken upon itself to try to protect guys who aren't protected at the time.
As far as vigilante justice? It existed once upon a time, but no longer. They're all making too much money for that.