Tuesday, February 8, 2011

The Pass that Cost Us $2,000

My weekend began by taking a gamble and ended with losing out on two grand. Let me explain.

After watching the Sixers almost blow a 10-point lead in the final two minutes against the Knicks Friday night before ultimately securing a two-point win, uncle jellyfish, my roommate and I contemplated where to kick our weekend drinking excursion off. Being that it was relatively cold and windy, we didn't want to stray too far from home. We also weren't too enthused about hitting up our typical watering hole, wanting to do something slightly different for a change.

Finally, we settled on Johnny Brenda's, a fine bar but one that typical inhabits a crowd that likes their jeans tight, music obscure and women tattooed up. Not exactly our typical scene, but nice for a change of pace. However, going there in and of itself was a crapshoot, especially with Adam EatShit eventually meeting us there.

Things got even murkier when we posted up at the bar and noticed an older woman sitting at the bar alone talking to her beer. But there were some nice-looking ladies, and we were having a relaxing time throwing back some brews. Then in comes another seemingly misplaced person sporting the spikey-haired look and expensive-looking clothing. Next thing you know, he comes up to the bar to get a drink and straight up cologne-bombs us. Seriously, this guy must have been wearing a half bottle of cologne. It was so bad we could hardly breathe. I'm not entirely sure what compels an individual to do such a thing, but people like him need to be stopped. Overbearing cologne can be just as bad as bad body odor. Really, the only thing worse is the stinky homeless people on the el that smell like urine, puke and feces.

Not long after Adam arrived a little later and discussed his disdain for the people around him, the cologne guy returned. This time, a few more beers in me, I let it be known that his stench was suffocating us. He failed to acknowledge the critique, but boy do I hope he heard it and heeds the advice. Seriously, there's no need to wear that much cologne.

The three of us wrapped up the evening with a few more drinks at our local watering hole, went home and relaxed a little bit, then went to sleep some time around 3:30 a.m. When I awoke, it was nearly time for the Villanova-West Virginia game.

We all there are no easy games in the Big East, but this one was about as painless as a win gets against a tough team. Villanova built an 11-point lead at halftime and ended up winning by 16 at the Well Fargo Center. Corey Fisher continued to be the leader, filling the role Scottie Reynolds left behind after his All-American senior campaign last year. Fisher had 16 points and 5 boards. He got a big helping hand from his understudy as well, as Maalik Wayns scored a game-high 17 points on 6-10 shooting, adding 4 assists while turning the ball over just twice.

It's a little alarming to see Corey Stokes shoot just 5 times, but he was 2-4 from beyond the arc, and Nova didn't really need him to score big on Saturday. Hopefully the five shots were indicative of the game plan and not a sign that Stokes is becoming gun-shy during his shooting slump. Being a senior, I think he'll be just fine.

What does concern me, however, is the clock at the Wells Fargo Center during Nova games. If you watched the game against Georgetown held at the Wells Fargo Center, you know that the clock inexplicably stopped for almost a minute, causing a major delay. Well on Saturday, it happened again. Early on, the clock malfunctioned, stopping for a while while play carried on. Then there was a delay to figure it all out. What the hell is up with that? It hasn't happened once all season as far as I know during a Sixers game, so why has it happened twice in a row for games Villanova has hosted there? Operator error? I don't know, but it better be fixed before the back-to-back games at the Wells Fargo Center against Syracuse and St. John's later this month.

After the Nova game, I watched Temple fend off a game Rhode Island team 80-67. The main reason was once again Scootie Randall, man who has been carrying the Owls the past two weeks. Scootie was the best player on the floor Saturday, scoring a game-high 27 points on 10-13 from the floor and 6-9 from three. He also chipped in 7 rebounds.

It was Scootie's fifth straight game with at least 14 points. In that stretch, the junior has averaged 20 points a game while shooting an astounding 64.4 percent from the floor, a remarkable percentage for a guard/small forward, highlighted by Saturday's incredible performance and the 28 points he posted in the loss at Xavier. His insane play of late has vaulted him to second on the team in scoring at 11.4 points per game, trailing only Ramone Moore's 14.2. And he's been the biggest reason Temple has won its last four games despite quiet output from Moore, Juan Fernandez and Lavoy Allen.

On Saturday, Moore and Allen did give Scootie a helping hand. Ramone put up 13 points, 6 assists, 4 rebounds and 2 steals, while Lavoy added a double-double with 13 points and 10 boards. But Fernandez went scoreless, missing all six of his shots, making Randall's play of late that much more important.

Despite the two losses in three games at Duquesne and at Xavier, it's been nice to see different players step up and carry the load at different times for Temple this year. Early on, it was Ramone Moore and Juan Fernandez doing the heavy lifting. Lavoy Allen, who had somewhat of a nondescript season, has been excellent at times, invisible at others. Khalif Wyatt has exploded offensively of late. And recently, it's been Scootie Randall leading the way. That will all serve the Owls well as they look to win yet another A-10 title.

After napping for a little bit, Toonces gave me a call. On Friday, he alerted me to his desires to go to Atlantic City on Saturday and told me to think about it. After a long night Friday and not quite enough sleep, I told him I was willing to go, but not all that enthused about driving that far to gamble. So I suggested we check out the Sugarhouse, which is literally in walking distance of my home.

He agreed to that, then took a nap. I did the same. Then I watched the Flyers handle the Stars in a 3-1 win and waited for Toonces. He got to my house right as the game was ending. We draft a couple beers, then headed to Delaware Ave. Following a few mongoloids in front of us, I entered the casino for the first time. Once we walked in, we were both asked for ID, a somewhat shocking request seeing as Toonces is 27 and I'm a month and a half away from turning 27. But I thought, no big deal, and began to take out my wallet. Then I remembered that for extenuating reasons, Toonces is not in possession of an ID for the next 10 days. He told the casino doormen as much, and they told him he couldn't come in. So we turned around, stunned at what had just taken place, and returned to my house to grab a beer and figure out what to do with ourselves for the rest of the night.

Our options were limited, but just stepping in to a casino triggered our gambling itch. That meant either Parx in Bensalem or the trek out to Atlantic City. Instead of making a decision ourselves, we let the coin decide. I flipped a penny — if heads came up, off to AC; tails, we stay in PA — and heads it was. As stupid as it may sound, we aren't ones to question the decision of the coin, so off we went, hoping Toonces wouldn't get carded in Jersey. There was no reason to believe he would, seeing as he never has before, but it would be one giant waste of time and gas if he did.

Thankfully, we encountered no such problems, and before I could blink, he was up like $120 playing craps. Satisfied with where he was at, I headed off to the poker room. There, I encountered a table of good players and was ready to play a good game. Only moments later, in walks a guy that looked a little like Eric Mangini. He sat right next to me at my table and immediately the odor of a locker room engulfed my area. I couldn't take it. The guy plain smelled. To make matters worse, he was a regular that knew all the dealers and wanted to make friends with everyone. Thus, he didn't shut up. The entire time. All fucking night. It was horrible, but I was committed to the table to match wits with some of the really good players that were there.

I have to give the man his due, he was a very good card player. But he annoyed the hell out of me, and all I wanted to do was bludgeon him to death with my keys. Thankfully, I restrained myself, but I didn't do so hot at the table. I won just two hands, one of which I chopped with another player. After hours of hanging on, I finally realized it was 5 in the morning and I was getting nowhere. I lost a little scratch, but nothing major, and rejoined Toonces. Neither of us walked out with more money than we entered with, but we didn't exactly lose much either.

Thus we embarked on our trip back to Philadelphia, and I finally got to sleep at 7 a.m. only to realize before I fell asleep that my wallet was gone.

I called Toonces, who was on his way home, to see if it was in his car. Luckily it was … but that meant I had to head out to Roxborough in the morning to get it. That turned out to be a real pain in ass. For starters, my roommates and I were hosting a Super Bowl party courtesy of the master culinary skills of uncle jellyfish. So there was some prep work that had to be done for that. Then, when I got to Manayunk, a bunch of lights were out on Ridge Avenue. And after retrieving my wallet, there was an accident on 95 near my exit and an accident on 76 that slowed up my trip.

By the time I got home, I was exhausted, running on very little sleep and needing to make it through the party. A half a Slack's hoagie helped me out a little. Then I took a nap to prep for the feast.

Our party consisted of two areas to watch TV downstairs, five homemade pizzas from uncle jellyfish, a ton of wings prepped by a combination of uncle jellyfish's wing sauce and my roommate's wing sauce, boatloads of chips, vegetables, crackers, pepperoni, salmon, dip, potato bites, and all other sorts of munchies. Then there were the desserts — Termini Bros. cannolis, homemade cookies, ridiculous homemade eclairs. We were feasting to the point of sickness, and that was essentially the whole point of the day.

To be honest, I just wasn't all that interested in the Super Bowl. Don't get me wrong, I watched and watched the entire thing, but I wasn't as invested as I wanted to be. Sure, I wanted Pittsburgh to lose, but at this point I'm so used to seeing the Steelers or some other team I hate (Patriots, Cowboys) win the Super Bowl that I'm used to it. The biggest thing I was watching for was to see if we could hit our numbers for a quarter or the game.

Two of my roommates, uncle jellyfish, Adam EatShit and I bought three $100 blocks. The payout was $2,000 for the first three quarters, $4,000 for the final score. One of our blocks was Green Bay 4, Pittsburgh 6. If you watched the game, you know just how close we came to taking the pot at halftime.

The Packers scored twice in the first on an Aaron Rodgers touchdown pass to Jordy Nelson and a Nick Collins pick 6 to go up 14-0. We had our 4. Then the Steelers added a field goal to make it 14-3 in the second quarter. One more field goal for Pittsburgh and no scoring for Green Bay, and we'd be $2,000 richer, $400 a man. And we looked to be in prime position.

After the Steelers forced a three-and-out following their field goal, they methodically drove down the field. They were eating up clock and moving closer to field goal range. With less than 5 minutes remaining before half, it looked as though Pittsburgh was going to get into field position and give us the score we needed. Then, on a 2nd and 11 play, Roethlisberger threw his second pick of the game, an interception that cost us $2,000. Rodgers led the Packers right down the field and hit Greg Jennings for a touchdown to put Green Bay up 21-3.

As if I needed another reason to hate Ben Roethlisberger.

From that moment on, I was more excited about cramming my face than anything in the game. Yes, it was a great finish, with Green Bay just holding on for the 31-25 win, and yes Aaron Rodgers was incredible in taking down the Steelers. But I could have really used that $400. Thanks for nothing, Ben. The one time I was rooting for you to not throw an interception. I'm glad you lost. And I'm glad some people finally admitted that Aaron Rodgers is a top 5 quarterback.

Still, that $400 would have been nice.

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