Clock stopper cashed in, big!

Jul 31, 2007 6:07 AM

For all the heat I took for my poetic article pertaining to streaks in baseball, well here’s the last laugh. Going into Saturday’s games there were five teams who had major streaks going. The Orioles and the Diamondbacks had five- and seven-straight wins and both won while the Marlins and Devil Rays had streaks of five and seven losses and they both lost.

Only one other team broke a streak — that being the Twins behind the best pitcher in baseball. Four out of five victories isn’t bad for a poet who admits he just doesn’t know it.

Next week’s match ups will be double tough for the surging Cubs who have to face the Phillies and Mets in back-to-back contests. The Brewers will find it every bit as tough as they face the same two teams. It figures to be a rough week for the Central Division. The Yankees get two cream puffs in the White Sox and Royals, so they may pick up some ground that they’ve lost on the Red Sox.

Last week, I attempted to point out that sports book personnel in Vegas are better regulators than anybody else in the country when it comes to "funny line moves" and irregularities with betting. We indeed have as much a vested interest in keeping a level playing field as anybody associated with college and professional sports betting, and we see stuff happening first.

With this thought in mind I’ll relate a story that occurred in the late 1970’s to me. At the time I didn’t think it was a big deal, but in light of the recent accusations of an NBA referee going bad, it seems much more significant now.

I was a ticket writer at the Del Mar Race and Sports Book in North Las Vegas, and had been accepting wagers on a regular basis from a stranger for a few weeks. What was unusual to me was he bet only on the over or under outcome of the Detroit Pistons pro basketball games. After a few weeks I narrowed it down to him betting on only Detroit home games, which I thought was strange as he was very successful, so why not bet on away games also?

I decided to follow up on the stranger more out of curiosity than anything else. At the time I had purchased a satellite dish (you may not remember but they took up almost the whole back yard and had to be cemented into the ground) which picked up almost every game without any obstructions or advertisements.

With most of my attention fixed on the game clock it soon became apparent that I’d solved the mystery. In the very first game the clock ran when it should have been stopped consistently throughout the game.

The most telling occurrence would happen as the referee handed the ball to a free thrower and the clock started as on the bottom of the screen the seconds clicked off while he bounced the ball and honed in on his target. I knew the clock was not supposed to start until the ball hit the rim or not at all if the shot was made.

Each time this occurred it didn’t seem like much until I figured out that you could use up about five to six minutes for an entire game. In those days totals were in the mid 220s, which calculated to almost 5 points per minute. In other words, you could alter the final outcome by as much as 20 to 30 points per game. Pretty sweet wouldn’t you say?

After that first game I told Bill Dark, the owner of Del Mar, and he suggested that I call Chuck Di Rocco, the publisher of this great paper which at the time was called the "Sports Form." I told Chuck about it and he said try one more game and if it happens again he’ll write about it.

Much to my amazement the next game was just the opposite of the previous one, as the clock almost never started until the ball crossed the ten second line, and seemingly the clock operator was tardy in starting on almost all out of bounds plays.

Surely it was no coincidence that the stranger had bet the second game over the total. The game flew over and Chuck wrote about it the following week in his paper and I never saw the stranger again.

The point is that the best regulators in the country are those of us that supervise or write tickets on the line as we deal directly with those who want to make a legitimate business illegitimate. Believe me Mr. Stern, we know almost all the angles, or at the very least we will discover them first!!

Have a great week!