The winners are blowin' in the wind

Apr 22, 2008 7:00 PM

Diamond’s Gems by Sid Diamond | First, a few notes on the NBA playoffs: Washington was beat but showed Cleveland they will be tough, especially back home in D.C. Gilbert Arenas, coming off a prolonged period of not playing due to injuries, was fantastic as he showed LeBron that there were two superstars on the floor. This series could easily go seven games.

The TV "experts" have all but given the MVP Award this year to Kobe Bryant, but he is closely contested by LeBron James and Chris Paul, the extremely gifted point guard for the Hornets. It is absolutely amazing to me that nobody mentioned the power forward of the San Antonio Spurs, one Mr. Tim Duncan. This guy makes other teams in his division trade (Shaq) for somebody to hold him in check, and has already led his team to three championships. Don’t they all say "the ring’s the thing?" Incidentally, in his first playoff game this year he led the Spurs with 40 points, 15 rebounds and three blocked shots. Additionally, he had a 3-pointer at the buzzer to force yet another overtime period as the Spurs sprinted out to a 1-0 lead against the Phoenix Suns, whose point guard has already won two MVP trophies, but never a ring.

Here are a few facts that may surprise you about baseball stats. The American League is almost totally upside down, as the worst pitching staff belongs to Detroit, with a 5.88 ERA, and the Cleveland Indians are the lowest hitting team, with a pathetic .237 batting average. These teams will turn around I am sure, but for the immediate future you can only rely on the National League teams for any betting consistency.

The Washington Nationals have a resounding batting average of .223 and Arizona leads the Majors with an astounding 2.78 ERA as advertised. Don’t forget to check out the daily selections at They are usually posted by 11 a.m. each day that I find some action spots.

Last Wednesday’s Cubs and Reds game reminded me of an occasion in the 1970s at the Churchill Downs Race & Sports Book, which was located in a shopping center now in front of Bally’s. In the early part of the day I told my boss Bill Dark that the winds in Chicago were blowing out to left field, about 25-30 mph, and gusting into the 40s.

Bill, a man of action, immediately went into the cash drawer and filled my pockets and sent me to Churchill Downs telling me to bet as much as I can on the total over. When I got there I saw on the board that the total was 11½ runs, which for that day and age was an enormous number, as most games were in the 7 to 8 range. I asked how much they would take on the total, and was told $500.

After I bet it they raised the number to 12½ , at which point I asked if they wanted another bet at that price, and they said yes, and joked about me betting a ridiculous number, as one patron stated "there’s one born every day." Somewhat embarrassed I asked if I could bet again as they moved the number to 14, and they said okay, with a jovial laugh, and everybody in the room got in on the fun.

With no money left I reluctantly left to many sarcastic good wishes from the writers and some patrons. Bill and I got the last laugh, as in the first two innings the score was 7-5. They went on to score somewhere in the mid 20s. I didn’t go back to cash the tickets, as I didn’t want to get known, but believe me it certainly was tempting. Incidentally, Wednesday’s final of the Cubs game was 12-3. It was somewhat shorter than the other game, but still enough to get the money.

Have a great week!