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Next Monday we will be celebrating Independence Day here in our great country, so before I get to my gambling story of the week let me give you a little history lesson as I have become aware that a lot of our younger readers just think the Fourth of July is a day to party, set off fireworks and get drunk.

Independence Day, which is celebrated on the 4th of July, is a Federal Holiday commemorating the adoption of the Declaration of Independence on July 4, 1776, with the Continental Congress declaring that the 13 colonies would be a new nation, the United States of America and no longer a part of the British Empire.

One tradition we had and one I still carry on with is watching the movie “Yankee Doodle Dandy” with the great James Cagney portraying George M. Cohan – just a great movie, great acting.

As things keep passing me by, this Monday will be all about parties and fireworks, no family cookout, no traditions. Oh well, what can I say.

One thing I do remember about fireworks when I was a young lad is my mother hated them and would say we had a choice. She always gave us a choice, not a good one but a choice.

The choice was she would spend the $10 on fireworks, which she would say was like taking a “saw buck” and putting a match to it or we would get hot dogs, burgers and sodas.

We would choose the food and drink. She would, however, have a little box of sparklers for us to light up an run around the yard with.

Growing up in Steubenville, Ohio meant gambling. It was all about getting a job in one of the steel mills and betting on a number, horses or sports. I may have watched way too much Sgt. Bilko on TV growing up as all I wanted was one of those bubble gum tickers and a back room to book in.

It was 1966 and all my friends were either joining the Marines or getting drafted. Myself and my pool hustling buddy Bob “Zak” Kozick, who was also a Bilko fan growing up, came up with the idea how we could make a ton of cash and also have a good time – join the Air Force.

You see, we would be much safer in that branch and our buddy Joe Burkey said it was great. We go sign up, make a fortune shooting pool and have the perfect system for playing a card game by the name of inbetween (we had signals when to go for the pot).

When we did get to basic training in San Antonio, Texas, we were wearing our black leather jackets with hair down to our ears. We were met by a Sgt. Porter, no Bilko. He did not like the way we looked and to this day I still don’t know where my leather jacket went.

We did manage to have a midnight card game and end up with all the money in the barracks. I never did get my bubble gum ticker but I had a bigger one when I got out west to the Stardust.

By the way, it was football season back in 1966 when we were in San Antonio and we did take a little action on the games. By then Sgt. Porter had enough of us, said he was leaving the worst group he had ever come across and the country was doomed.

I asked him if he wanted to bet the game and he hit my head with the back of his hand, I guess that was a no!

No more signals from Zak so we will just rely on sound handicapping and hope we can make a few bucks, especially with football season just a short month and a half away.

This past week in baseball the Indians remained on the “warpath” and going into Monday’s game at Atlanta won nine in a row, the Braves have been playing better and, despite being out of the division, they won 7 of their last 10 games going into Monday.

In the NL East the Nationals have gone just 3-7 in their last 10 games and Stephen Strasburg has missed back-to-back starts with a sour back of sorts. The Mets who sit in second place can make up ground on the Nats as they start a three game series on Monday, but the New York bats have gone silent.

In the NL Central the Cubs have come to earth, winning just 3 of their last 10 games going into Monday as they start a three game series with the Reds. If they don’t win this series something is amiss.

The Pirates somehow won three straight games vs. the Dodgers, including a win over the unbeatable Clayton Kershaw. One more game was played Monday as the Dodgers try to avoid getting swept in a four game series in Pittsburgh, which would be a big confidence builder for the Pirates who need to get on a big win streak.

Looking at this week’s schedule we notice the Cubs will head to New York on Thursday and catch the Mets coming off their big series with the Nationals. They will play a four game series and we will be on the Cubs in all four. Get the cash when we can in these situations with no signals.

The dog days of summer are here, play it safe and have a safe Independence day next Monday. Stay cool, go to your favorite book, make a bet. You just never know, you could be walking around lucky and not even know it.

Twitter: @SabesBet.

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