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Couch Slouch is thinking of recasting this column as Gambling Gus because America – a rambling, gambling nation-in-progress since 1776 or thereabouts – is on the inexorable Manifest Destiny road to a coast-to-coast, around-the-clock, bet-until-you-drop-it-all Monte Carlo-like sovereignty. It’s not that everyone will be betting soon, but more people will, and most will be relieved of a good deal of their cash.
Couch Slouch: Think of the most fearsome, dominant individual-sport athletes of the last couple of generations; at their best, you had little chance of beating them: Mike Tyson. Michael Phelps. Tiger Woods. Serena Williams. Jason Belmonte. Usain Bolt. James Holzhauer. Yes, James Holzhauer.
Couch Slouch: LeBron James will not play in a ninth consecutive NBA Finals, and according to many pundits, it is because he moved to Los Angeles and went Hollywood. I don’t much like pundits, and if you tell me I’m a pundit, well, then, I don’t much like myself. Anyway, LeBron is the first order of business as Couch Slouch presents our annual incomplete guide to the NBA postseason:
Couch Slouch: As the National Hockey League playoffs commence — they are held annually at this time except in those years in which the entire season is canceled — I would like to apologize to my NHL friends and associates for decades of high-sticking, power-play neglect.
Couch Slouch: We have reached a tipping point on fan behavior in America. Of course, this mirrors a tipping point on online behavior in America. Which, naturally, reflects a tipping point on general behavior in America. In short, common sense is now uncommon and nobody behaves very well anymore. Where do we start?
As many of you have undoubtedly heard by now, bridge – the last pure sport in America and beyond – has been rocked by a drug scandal of Cansecoian proportions. Geir Helgemo, the world’s No. 1 bridge player, recently was given a one-year ban after testing positive for synthetic testosterone and the female fertility drug clomifene at the 2018 World Bridge Series in Orlando, Florida.
Couch Slouch: Tim Donaghy used to fix NBA games, in David Stern’s NBA. You might remember hearing about this several years back, but it largely disappeared from the public eye. It’s now worth looking at again, if you take a moment out to read Scott Eden’s fascinating espn.com article on Donaghy’s gambling activities.
There are only two things you need to know about bowling: 1. Anyone can bowl, and anyone should bowl. 2. No one bowls as well as Jason Belmonte.
Couch Slouch: At last count, nearly 2,000 NBA players changed teams last week before the trade deadline. Remarkably, Anthony Davis was not among them.
Couch Slouch: Before this season, there was a little-noted change in the NBA rulebook that stated, “Defenders shall not impede any shot by an opponent; if at all possible, the offensive player will be allowed to shoot unguarded.” Or so it seems.
Couch Slouch: The Oakland/Los Angeles/Oakland/Las Vegas Raiders are looking for a temporary home for the 2019 NFL season. At this point, a pop-up stadium in Dubai might be in play. The Raiders – often called “America’s Team” because over the last half-century they have contacted every American municipality seeking a housing deal – are scheduled to move to a new, expensive, almost-paid-for dome in Las Vegas in 2020.
Couch Slouch: The NFL remains an easy thing to watch and a hard to thing to listen to. What was once plainspoken is now plain gobbledygook; game analysts turn simple actions into tangled discourse. It sounds like English, but it is a language all its own. Here is a sampling of some fancy-schmancy, newfangled television football terms:
If professional football is in the midst of an inexorable decline – the NFL, some doomsayers sayeth, might be a sporting dinosaur by century’s end * – then how is it possible there are two new professional football leagues aiming to debut by 2020?
These are 23 (more) facts, tried and true, about the widening world of sports television.
The only popular team sport in America more rigged than college basketball is college football. That’s not opinion, that’s fact; it is incontrovertible, indisputable and inarguable.
Couch Slouch: I am thankful this week, not because it’s Thanksgiving – I hardly ever pay attention to the calendar; heck, I’m still on Daylight Savings Time – but because my body rhythms just tell me to be happy about so many transcendent blessings. Such as…
Couch Slouch: Rising from the ashes of a million cigarette butts, in the shadow of a desert filled with buried body parts, looms the specter of a massive sporting palace partially funded by the largest public stadium subsidy in U.S. history. And people were worried about the midterms?
Couch Slouch: I’m in a bad mood today – Effexor can only unclog the brain drain so much – and most of it is self-inflicted, due to my reluctant, ought-to-know-better, this-is-the-last-thing-I-should-be-doing-with-my-life embracing of Twitter. Twitter is so devilish, the devil won’t use it.