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01 Oct 2009

Walkthrough: Ramblin' Gamblin' Man

by Mike Tanier

Delaware: the anything-for-a-buck state.

Delaware is a flat, featureless trio of counties shrugged off by Pennsylvania in the colonial era, a sprawling expanse of bedroom communities, choked highways, and endless tax-free shopping complexes. I've always thought of Delaware as an existential hell customized for torturing ironic intellectuals like myself, a place where citizens gleefully trade geographic inconvenience and cultural desolation for cheap cigarettes.

I rarely travel willingly to Delaware and I drive through the state as quickly as possible, which isn't very fast because traffic is dense and toll plazas are ubiquitous. I would pay real money for a Delaware bypass: an enormous bridge that starts in Pennsville, New Jersey, and doesn't touch the ground again until Elkton, Maryland. I would surrender a couple of paychecks to help fund that sucker. I know my attitude is uncharitable and immature, a product if my own hang-ups more than the merits of the state itself, but I have an illogical, passionate dislike of Delaware.

But on Sunday, I drove to Delaware to spend my precious recreation time, not to mention my money. I headed to The First State (in chronology if not my heart) to place my first-ever legal football bet.

I've placed bets with bookies before. Like everyone else, I know a guy who knows a guy. After a decade of writing, I have actually gotten to know the second guy and the guy he knows who we don't talk about. I don't bet often -- high-profile weekly picks are enough of a gamble for me -- and I don't like the idea that my wagers are used to subsidize other illegal operations. I have been to Vegas, but only during the doldrums of baseball season: my jobs don't make autumn weekend getaways feasible. I live one hour from Atlantic City, a gambling Mecca that also provides socially acceptable amenities like a beach, but sports wagering is illegal in Atlantic City for reasons logical only to angry Puritans and 1970s politicians/mob bosses.

So Sunday marked a first: a chance to bet in a sportsbook and revel in the casino experience, NFL-style. Delaware just legalized sports gambling, and Delaware Park, a 40 minute drive from my home, advertises itself as a full-service guy-stuff resort: all the Sunday games, golf, horses, drink specials, and so on. It was the perfect opportunity to drink, dine, and drop money to excess. I may not be cool enough for Vegas, but I'm cool enough by half to cut it in Wilmington. Maybe a day of debauchery would change my opinion of a state which, after all, has done nothing to me except siphon toll money from my pocket.

What did I have to lose, besides money?

"Don't You Know a Bookie?"

I drove to Delaware in a dreary rain, armed with my laptop, a notebook, the Football Outsiders Premium picks, and several hundred dollars in cash. "Paul Revere" by the Beastie Boys thumped on the radio. I felt good, ready for a little deviltry; I rarely get a whole day to do guy stuff. I usually watch the early games while taking notes and nursing beers at the local sports bar, then catch the late games on tape or between Nickelodeon marathons with the kids. This Sunday was mine: My wife gave me carte blanche to drink and gamble, and to rent a hotel room if I did too much of one and still had money left over from the other.

I left I-95, following signs along a short tangle of state highways, until I found Delaware Park. A long service road took me through the golf course to a wide parking area with shuttle buses. I parked with the grandstand and casino looming on the horizon. The shuttle was nowhere to be found, so I hiked through the rain, past men on cell phones reviewing their picks and old women with cigarettes on their way to the slots. Guys wore jerseys -- Eli Manning and Joe Flacco were the most popular, but Matt Forte and Zack Thomas were also represented -- and some cars were decorated with Eagles flags or Dolphins stickers. Cars were stacked three-deep for valet parking, some of them Kias. Security politely searched my laptop bag and directed me to the sportsbook: way, way back at the far end of the casino, through several identical rooms of slots and video poker machines.

At the sportsbook, I met my partner in crime, Brian Fish: attorney, mixologist, gourmand, and Bills fan. Brian came wearing his trademark fedora, with a couple of Cohiba Maduro cigars in his pocket, bringing a little Vegas to the experience. We ordered Bloody Marys in plastic cups. They were just spicy and strong enough to shake off the damp cold of the parking lot.

Brian had already cased the joint, and he had bad news: The horses weren't running. Park officials had recently altered the race schedule, moving races from Sunday to midweek, presumably because football gambling was enough of a Sunday draw. Brian and I planned to bet a few horses during lulls in the football, but we could only do that on out-of-town races. That's too much like degenerate gambler behavior, even for us.

We studied the parlay cards that were stacked in displays near the entrance to the sportsbook. In Delaware, you aren't allowed to bet single games. Instead, you bet parlay cards, choosing a minimum of three games. The Half-Point Parlay cards are based on the true Vegas lines for the game, although some are moved a half point to avoid pushes. The Teaser Cards have modified lines for favorites and underdogs; for the Ravens game, I could take the Ravens minus-8.5 or get the Browns plus-20.5 instead of the regular 12.5 point line. The catch, of course, is that payoffs aren't as good on the Teaser Cards: a three-game winner pays at 13-to-5 as opposed to 5-to-1 for a half-point parlay. There's also a Super Teaser card, which lowers the payoffs further but warps the spreads past the point of logic: the Chiefs +27, while it seemed like a safe play, was just too much to wrap my brain around.

Brian and I puzzled over the Teaser Cards. We both liked the Ravens (minus-8.5) and the Lions (+ 13.5), but we disagreed over the third choice. Brian liked the Eagles (minus-4.5), but I had my doubts about a team with Kevin Kolb at quarterback and an injured Brian Westbrook. I toyed with the Giants (-1.5), who looked like a lock, but I didn't want to root for the Giants. Instead, I took the plucky Rams +13.5, for 50 bucks.

There was no line to process the bets, and with 45 minutes until kickoff, it was time for lunch. The bar at the sportsbook offered only pizza slices (regular and pepperoni) and hot dogs in aluminum foil. We asked the barmaid where we could find real food, and she took offense. After some searching, we found a restaurant called the Beefstro, but it wasn't open. The barmaid outside the Beefstro was even less helpful and polite than the one at the sportsbook. She wasn't sure if the Beefstro was open on Sundays, or which, if any, of the casino eateries would be open, or if there was any food at all available in New Castle County. She didn't want to take time from her glass-rinsing schedule to help us. After an even longer search and a few conversations with employees of varying helpfulness, we found a counter serving deli fare.

Brian ordered a panini, and we ordered Yuengling black-and-tan bottles from the adjacent bar for a whopping $5.50 each. The barmaid asked us where we were from. She wondered why guys would come from as far away as Philly and Baltimore to gamble in Wilmington. "You're from Philly. Don't you know a bookie?" she asked. I assured her I did, but that I came to check out the scene. She rolled her eyes, saying that there wouldn't be much of a scene with the Eagles and Ravens playing at home. I mentioned that many of my friends were at the Eagles game, and she said that it was crazy to go to a football game "with the world the way it is these days. Somebody could blow the stadium up." Brian and I quickly finished our beers to escape this cranky lunatic barmaid.

Broken Taps, Forgotten Children

We returned to the sportsbook a few minutes before kickoff. Fans sat at large, round banquet tables, each of which could seat about eight comfortably but only held two or three fans. There are two rooms with about 40 tables in each room, making the book look more like two large wedding halls. Each room contained a huge wall of projection screens, with each wall showing six games. Hand-written signs taped to the screens labeled which game was showing. When early kickoffs arrived, fans sitting near the wall deputized themselves to peel the signs off the wall. They received scattered applause.

We wanted drinks. We searched for the waitress (singular). With two rooms, about 80 tables, and maybe 250 people in attendance, Delaware Park decided to schedule only one waitress. She was lovely and efficient, but very alone. I tried my luck at the bar, but the barmaid was also working alone, and the line was about 20 deep. There was a long line to place bets as well, and some people weren't going to get their cards in before kickoff. After giving the waitress the kind of tip that guarantees extra flybys and procuring two more Bloody Marys, Brian pointed out a bank of about a dozen automatic bet-processing machines. All of them were out of service. For some reason, Delaware Park didn't want our money.

The early games started, the Bloody Marys hit my system, and I forgot about inconvenient food and certifiably insane barmaids. The Eagles and Ravens looked good right away, and their opponents looked dreadful. The Lions and Redskins traded incompetence. The Rams played poorly, but the Packers kept settling for field goals, and I had over thirteen points of wiggle room. I tried to watch the Jets defense -- I pitched an article to ESPN about their blitzes, but don't have any game tape -- but the Titans never had the ball, so I watched Mark Sanchez play beyond his years. As teams scored, fans clapped and cheered, but the overall atmosphere was subdued. The wide tables and long distances kept people from interacting, taking away the intensity you get at a crowded sports pub.

By the end of the first quarter, Brian and I were thirsty. Our lone waitress was officially overtaxed, so I tried the bar again. The line was short but didn't move. The bar taps were broken. The barmaid had to handle the line -- plus a row of seated patrons -- and her patience, strained at noon, had snapped. I made small talk with others waiting in line, then long talk. We discussed the merits of buying beers then going to the back of the line to start over. When I reached the front, my plan to bring 12 beers back to the table was thwarted by a two-drink maximum. The $2 Budweiser special had little appeal when I first arrived, but I wanted quick drinks that wouldn't make the barmaid sneer or the folks in line me strangle me. I bought two of the drink that got me through 11th grade. When I returned to the table, Brian had also secured beers and even more tip-related loyalty from our poor waitress.

As the afternoon rolled on, the Ravens and Eagles pulled away. I began to root for the hapless Rams. Their first three drives ended in a blocked field goal and two fumbles. Marc Bulger and Steven Jackson were the fumblers, but they were also the only Rams players who looked like they belonged on the field. The Packers scored in their first five possessions, twice on 80-plus-yard drives that took less than three minutes of game time and even less real time. Kyle Boller replaced Bulger, and I thought about tearing my betting slip into a billion pieces. But Boller started scrambling for first downs, and he threw two touchdown passes to someone named Daniel Fells who probably hasn't scored two touchdowns since Pop Warner. The Rams were down by just six in the third quarter, which means I was up by seven-and-a-half.

Drinks started to arrive more freely. A hostess from another part of the casino arrived to help the lone waitress, while a manager assisted the beleaguered barmaid. Two young ladies serving drinks gave us twice the scenery; as you might imagine, the clientele at the sportsbook was about 80 percent male, 15 percent girlfriend/wife, and five percent child. Yes, there were children bouncing around, running between tables while their parents neglected them. I often see kids at the local sports pub, but that's a neighborhood restaurant, not a casino that specializes in mild adult vices. Brian and I were about to share a neanderthal comment about a cheerleader when an eight-year old girl skipped past, stopping us in our prurient tracks. This sort of thing does not happen in Vegas.

What Gamblers Want

Gambling has a peculiar effect on the psyche. The Jets-Titans game was close, the screen showing it was in full view, and I had a financial stake in the game: an article for ESPN could net me much more cash than a win on a three-team parlay. My bet made me watch the Rams. The Packers led by 12 in the fourth quarter, but a Rams punt pinned them at the six-yard line, and they punted after a slow drive. I felt good: The Packers would play dump-and-chase with their 12-point lead, and with the Redskins hibernating and the Browns searching greater Cleveland for quarterbacks, I would be $130 richer. But Boller threw an ugly interception deep in Rams territory, and the Packers scored easily. My hopes now rested with a meaningless late Rams touchdown drive, the kind Boller had never figured out how to execute.

Brian was in better spirits: the Lions salted away their first Recession-era victory, so he won his parlay. We were both tipsy and hungry, so we decided to place our late bets before going on an epic quest for more food. I took the Bills (+13.5), Steelers (+2.5) and Raiders (+6.5) on another teaser card. While a lifelong Bills fan, Brian has no faith in Dick Jauron, so he took the Saints (minus-1.5), Bears (+4.5) and Steelers.

Our dinner choices were limited. There's a prime rib establishment called Del Caps at Delaware Park, but we were told that the football games weren't on in the dining room. We settled for a cafeteria-style meal from a deli called On a Roll. We ordered Italian hoagies and chicken salad sandwiches, then crossed the casino floor to a service bar that was showing Steelers-Bengals on a small HDTV. We ate, drank gin and tonic (the well gin is poison, but Tanqueray is available), and dropped a few bucks in a video poker machine. Brian wanted to smoke his stogie, so we went out to the grandstand. The sun was out, the weather cool, and the racetrack empty. Earlier in the day, the Eagles game played on the jumbo racetrack screen, but that screen was blank now. We listened to Steelers play-by-play, checked our messages, and compared our thoughts on the Delaware gambling experience.

Delaware doesn't capture the Vegas zeitgeist, but no one expects it to. The problem is that Delaware fails to even capture the suburban sports pub experience. My local bar offers better drinks, cheaper drinks, easier-to-get drinks, a greater variety of good, cheap, easy-to-get drinks, better food, easier-to-get food, and cuter, more plentiful waitresses, plus a livelier atmosphere. I can also gamble to my hearts content if I don't mind breaking a barely-enforced law. "To work, it's got to be better than the bookie," Brian said. It isn't.

I don't think the racetrack people know what football gamblers want. We want buffalo wings, nachos, and sliders. We want convenience. We want the suspension of reality that comes from plentiful booze, spicy food, free-flowing cash, and under-dressed waitresses at our beck and call. Once you wait a half hour for a drink or walk a quarter mile for a sandwich, the fantasy disappears: you aren't a sultan who can light cigars with $50 bills, you are a guy on a budget on a momentary reprieve from domestic life, a guy who has to lug his own sandwich to the table and can't have the premium drafts because the tap is broken. This reality check takes away all of the fun.

Laughs and Sympathy

We returned to the sportsbook and had a few more beers, but now the drinks went down harder, as did the games. Brian cashed his winning slip without hassle, and his afternoon games offered hope for a sweep. I had little hope. The Raiders offense was unwatchable, three ill-conceived plays followed by Shane Lechler punts which were almost long enough to keep the game close. By halftime, it was clear they had no comeback in them.

The Eagles, Giants, and Ravens crowds were long gone. Evening fell, and the only light in the sportsbook came from the televisions. About 50 of us were left, hardcore fans and gamblers waiting on the late games. Most of the action was on Steelers-Bengals, and we watched the Bengals comeback with interest. Occasionally, I chanted "Let's go Raiders," eliciting a mix of laughs and sympathy.

The Bengals drove to the red zone. The Bears also mounted a comeback against the Seahawks. Our small battalion of fans became boisterous. One guy began to shout "Throw it to Ocho!" Others drummed the table and shouted when Carson Palmer completed a fourth-and-10 pass. When the Bengals took the lead, some groaned, others jumped and clapped. The same thing happened when Devin Hester scored a late touchdown against the Seahawks. For a few minutes, the sportsbook felt like it should: exciting and energetic, a place where fortunes were at stake. It was so little, and so late. My buzz had grown stale, my betting slip worthless. Brian and I had carte blanche. In Vegas, we would just be warming up. We decided to sober up and head home to our families. Most of the crowd did the same.

Delaware Park is just what I thought it would be, only worse. I expected the joyless casino floors, filled with lonely senior citizens dropping quarters into slot machines. I expected overpriced drinks and a measure of surliness from the staff. But I also expected a damn buffalo wing, or a horse race, or a waitress with a fighting chance of serving her clientèle. Football gambling is new to Delaware, but the whole casino seemed caught off guard, as if no one expected thirsty football fans on a Sunday afternoon. The whole affair was inconvenient, mismanaged, planned on a whim and financed on a dime. In short, it was uniquely Delaware.

(Note: The anti-Delaware opinions expressed by Mike Tanier are completely his own and do not reflect the editorial opinion of the rest of the Football Outsiders, who think Delaware is no better or worse than any other state and don't want to have to sort through Tanier's hate mail.)

Posted by: Mike Tanier on 01 Oct 2009

62 comments, Last at 10 Feb 2010, 5:01pm by dryheat

Comments

1
by Kurt (a different one) (not verified) :: Thu, 10/01/2009 - 11:15am

Why do I get the feeling that Purgatory for sports gamblers would look exactly like this. Bad games on the TV, broken beer taps, Budweiser in plastic cups, stale heat-lamp cooked pizza, and overworked (and thus surly) staff. Add to it long lines in the restroom.

4
by Josfan :: Thu, 10/01/2009 - 11:25am

Gregg Easterbrook wants royalties for this comment.

2
by bubqr :: Thu, 10/01/2009 - 11:15am

"she said that it was crazy to go to a football game "with the world the way it is these days. Somebody could blow the stadium up." Brian and I quickly finished our beers to escape this cranky lunatic barmaid."

Reminds me of the plot of a great, great book : Monday Night Jihad. You should try it, it's breathtaking.

5
by Shylo :: Thu, 10/01/2009 - 11:31am

Oh come on, that's just dirty.

6
by Shylo :: Thu, 10/01/2009 - 11:32am

Can someone delete this double post?

28
by jebmak :: Thu, 10/01/2009 - 2:07pm

I initially read that as, "Can someone double-delete this post?"

7
by YouppiPwns (not verified) :: Thu, 10/01/2009 - 11:36am

Monday Night Jihad has a 5-star rating on Amazon (click on name for link)

23
by Sophandros :: Thu, 10/01/2009 - 1:40pm

It seems that the people who give it five stars think that reliving 9/11 is a good thing....

-------------
Sports talk radio and sports message boards are the killing fields of intellectual discourse.

46
by Led :: Thu, 10/01/2009 - 7:11pm

I'm going to teach myself guitar just so I can start a band called Cranky Lunatic Barmaid.

3
by Josfan :: Thu, 10/01/2009 - 11:24am

Delaware does suck. I'm willing to chip in for the bypass bridge as well. My "three hour" trip from NJ to Baltimore always takes longer because of the traffic in DE.

I do like the tax free shopping though.

8
by Independent George :: Thu, 10/01/2009 - 11:53am

A while back, The New Republic (NO POLITICS!) published an article which basically called Delaware a parasite which owed its entire existence to the ability to charging tolls to out-of-state residents commuting to DC. The theory was that this essential amounted to a political super-power: the ability to raise taxes without alienating the voter base, since the taxpayers in this case were all nonresidents and couldn't vote on the tolls.

9
by DavidL :: Thu, 10/01/2009 - 12:03pm

Speaking as an expatriate Philadelphian living in Sussex County, I'm with you, Tanier.

44
by cormeagles@yahoo.com :: Thu, 10/01/2009 - 6:35pm

As a Delawarean, I'll be glad to accept criticism of our state from a number of people, but someone from Jersey??!? You have to be kidding me. The land of super high taxes, crooked politicians, long, dirty beaches and circles in the road? Puhlease.

With that said, I did go to DelPark week 1 and it does stink. Draft beers are $4.75 and bottles are $5.50. Who wants quick service at those prices. They did have a big wall of TVs with all the games, but they also ran Family Guy and college football highlights. On Sunday, I like having my head on a swivel to see all the plays, but every time you did that it was to be suckered into some ACC Highlight from the day before. That was annoying! Had 2 over-priced beers, a horrible hard/soft pretzel and split midway through the first half. Went to Buffalo Wild Wings - at least the beers were $3 for 22oz. And there's a legal poker room upstairs -1/2 no-limit Holdem.

As for the betting, there are no over-unders so you can't even do a proper parlay with team & O/U. They're still fighting to get single betting in, and they have a chance. They spent a good bit of money upgrading all the tracks to have sports books, but once the "parlay-only" verdict came down, big air out of the balloon, they stopped what they were doing and decided to half ass it. Maybe if they win the appeal, they'll set them up right.

48
by Kevin from Philly :: Thu, 10/01/2009 - 7:56pm

That's a completely unfair and mean spirited depiction of New Jersey. They're well on the way to getting rid of the traffic circles.

55
by dryheat :: Fri, 10/02/2009 - 7:56am

I want to live in your world where a $4.75 draft is exhorbitant.

58
by GlennW :: Fri, 10/02/2009 - 11:31am

$3 or $3.50 per pint (depending on the beer) at my regular NFL Sunday Ticket-fed sports bar in Nashua NH, with occasional $2 specials. There are city prices (as in Boston) where $4.75 is completely reasonable, and then there are everyday normal-people prices elsewhere.

59
by BucNasty :: Fri, 10/02/2009 - 4:37pm

I get 2-for-1 for a bit less than that all day at my local sports bar.

10
by UK-Phil (not verified) :: Thu, 10/01/2009 - 12:06pm

America's bipolar attitude to gambling amazes me, treating it as a mortal vice in most places but in a few places bigging it up as the best thing ever, but doing it badly. So you either have to do it illegally, or in selected venues pumped with oxygen and alcohol (maybe not in Mike's case above!) to blur your judgment. It doesn't really seem a very mature approach.

Here I can just click on a website from home and 30 seconds later place any one of a combination of bets on one or more games how I want, no having to parlay them up. Various winning marging combos, or time for first points, nature of first points, total shirt numbers of scorers etc. A lot of these are available in running, so you can bet in the middle of a game if you really want. Even places in the US where you can gambling, the options are so unimaginative and uninspiring it's hard to see the point.

I hardly ever do bet, as it spoils games a bit for me, but if I wanted to on the Pats/Ravens on Sunday and wanted to bet on an exchange (ie against other humans and not a bookie) this is a typical selection I could chose from just on that game.

Baltimore +3.5
Baltimore +9.5
New England +2.5
Total Match Points
1st Half Points
1st Quarter Hcap
1st Quarter Points
D Mason Rec Yds
Field Goal Missed?
F Taylor Rush Yds
Half/Full Time
Half Time Handicap
Half Time Match Odds
Hcap / Points Double
J Flacco Pass Yds
Odd or Even Total Points
R Moss Rec Yds
T Brady Pass Yds
To Score a Touchdown
Total Baltimore Points
Total New England Points
Two Point Conversion
Winning Margin
W McGahee Rush Yds

19
by Jimmy :: Thu, 10/01/2009 - 1:27pm

What a lot of British people don't realise is that the bets you place online are entirely unregulated by any government agency. If you win big and they don't like it they can refuse to pay out and simply give you back your stake (I know people this has happened to). One onlie betting company has £100 or so of mine I won on the Superbowl and then they simply closed my account because I hadn't made any bets for six months. You know the six months when there wasn't any football to bet on. When I called them up about it they basically just said tough luck.

51
by fyo :: Thu, 10/01/2009 - 8:12pm

What a lot of British people don't realise is that the bets you place online are entirely unregulated by any government agency.

That's bull.

Online sports books are subject to the laws of the country they're based in. UK-based sports books, like ladbrokes.com and coral.co.uk (to name a couple of popular sports books with physical presence) and online-only entities like betfair.com, are regulated by the UK Gambling Commission. Placing bets there gives you the exact same rights (and sometimes more) than if you used the local sports book.

For EU residents, going with a bookmaker licensed in an EU country makes a lot of sense and provides a good amount of guarantee. Many bookmakers are also registered as operators under IBAS (ibas-uk.com), who provide independent dispute arbitration (with verdicts binding for members).

It might be that some weird illegal or semi-legal site, not registered in any country, will give you trouble, but with established sports books? Not likely.

Unsubstantiated, your claims are completely ludicrous.

52
by Dan :: Thu, 10/01/2009 - 9:17pm

Online sportsbooks are also "regulated" based on reputation. Sites like Sportsbook Review keep track of which betting companies treat their customers fairly and which do the kinds of things that happened to you, so that bettors can take their business to the ones with a good track record. For the ones that depend on their reputation, the hit to their reputation is not worth the couple hundred pounds/dollars/euros that they could squeeze out of you.

24
by bravehoptoad :: Thu, 10/01/2009 - 1:41pm

You could go much farther in talking about our warped attitude towards gambling, starting with the way it's a state monopoly in many places. This gives the state a very strong interest in preventing the spread of competing types of gambling (like sports betting.) This is really screwed up because, as you point out, the original reason gambling was illegal was becaust of its immorality.

25
by Independent George :: Thu, 10/01/2009 - 1:46pm

Then there's the way state lotteries are often sold as being essential to funding schools...

41
by Tundrapaddy (not verified) :: Thu, 10/01/2009 - 5:09pm

Ah, yes. You've got to appreciate the irony of funding education through a tax on the stupid (or at least, the mathematically-disinclined).

49
by Kevin from Philly :: Thu, 10/01/2009 - 7:59pm

Yeah, because people who bet on sports NEVER buy lottery tickets.

11
by David Mazzotta :: Thu, 10/01/2009 - 12:11pm

Delaware did this wrong. Instead of adding sportsbooks to casinos, they should license sports bars to take bets. I'm sure Buffalo Wild Wings would be glad to add a betting window for a small cut of the action.

12
by DaninPhilly (not verified) :: Thu, 10/01/2009 - 12:18pm

I remember when Walkthrough used to be about football, with a little light comedy thrown in. *Sigh*

Here, chosen at random, is an article from last year which I reread after this one, and I think was way better for my taste.
http://footballoutsiders.com/walkthrough/2008/walkthrough-return-king

Mike, can you return to football? Don't become the next Bill Simmons. I stopped reading him mostly because he stopped writing anything about the actual game I cared to read. Let me look forard to your articles once again.

14
by GlennW :: Thu, 10/01/2009 - 12:40pm

I liked and appreciated the article; I was interested in how this Delaware gambling enterprise would work. If it weren't for the fact that parlays are a big ripoff compared to 10% vig (paying only 5-1 on true 7-1 odds and getting even worse from there with sucker teaser bets, etc.) based on Mike's lousy customer experience I might even expect Delaware to lose money on its overhead expenses, as some Vegas sports books have.

But no, I don't expect a gambling column every week, and I assume this won't be a trend.

15
by dryheat :: Thu, 10/01/2009 - 1:01pm

On the contrary, as I was considering having a Fantasy Draft in Delaware next year, I found this very informative, although having a year to work out the kinks can only improve the experience, I would hope.

As far as getting back to the football, I think you may be underestimating how hard it is to come with a fresh angle every week. I stopped reading Easterbrook four years ago, King and Simmons three years ago, and Magary last year because their schtick has gotten so predictable I could've written the article for each. Mike's all I've got left for football analysis/humor, and I don't see any signs of slippage.

62
by dryheat :: Wed, 02/10/2010 - 5:01pm

In fact, piggy-backing on this, I'm going to throw up a Hail Mary and revive a long-dead thread, gauche as that may be:

I'm still thinking about having my football fantasy draft in Delaware. We actually have the draft on the Saturday of Week 1 (after the Thursday game), so logistically we could do it.

Does anybody have any feedback from the scene at Dover Downs or Harrington Raceway?

30
by LorenzoStDuBois (not verified) :: Thu, 10/01/2009 - 2:10pm

I'm actually with Dan here. The FO walkthrough seems to be all style, no football, and the NYT column the other way around. Walkthrough has always been the hands down best football column I read every week. Now I don't really like either one all that much.

Don't mean to come down too hard. I will continue reading, cause Tanier can write, I just really don't like the new format. He doesn't even make picks in the NYT version!

38
by BucNasty :: Thu, 10/01/2009 - 3:51pm

I would love to see Mike start another picks column. Rundown was probably the best picks column I've ever read. The NYT preview column has a similar format but would be better if he declared winners. The pick is implied in some instances but not all. It's also grating every time I read "the veteran So-and-So" or "the rookie left tackle."

And do they not serve pitchers in this casino? It would do wonders for the line.

45
by Mike Tanier :: Thu, 10/01/2009 - 6:45pm

No pitchers in the sports book.

Walkthrough is all about variety. There are more play diagrams and in depth football features to come. Every once in a while, I do a little "life and times" thing so I don't drown in a sea of diagrams.

As for picks, I may include them at the end of future Walkthroughs or make a few more in the Times. But ... did anyone check my record last year?

56
by DaninPhilly (not verified) :: Fri, 10/02/2009 - 8:22am

Mike, no one takes anyone's online picks seriously. No one reads your picks to get gambling tips. They read them because the process of picking a winner against the spread forces you to analyze the game from an objective point of view. Given your talents as a writer and your access to the inner workings of DVOA, you can analyze the games in ways which are not common, giving unique perspectives and things to look for during the games. This enhanses my enjoyment of the games themselves, which is why I always looked forward to reading your articles. This is what I miss from last year's, and the year before that's, articles. I hope you return to that kind of writing.

61
by Bruce G. (not verified) :: Mon, 10/05/2009 - 2:53pm

I Agree Mike. I never read your picks to make picks. It was a fresh combination of insight and humor that, as people noted above, wasn't as predictable as your contemporaries. Nutshells was always a great way to end what was normally an excellent article. (And I disagree with those above who disliked this one.)

13
by Dice :: Thu, 10/01/2009 - 12:33pm

Delaware is an awful place, notable only for being able to get hassled by bikers at Thorogood concerts. Still, I'd live there over Philly. And Josfan, Jersey to Baltimore? What kind of masochist are you?

16
by Fontes of Wayne :: Thu, 10/01/2009 - 1:01pm

You guys all talk about Delaware as though it were an actual place, and not just a corporate tax shelter that only exists as a pile of paperwork in some forgotten D.C.-area filing cabinet.

35
by Red Hedgehog :: Thu, 10/01/2009 - 2:42pm

This is the only correct opinion to have of Delaware.

17
by langsty (not verified) :: Thu, 10/01/2009 - 1:11pm

good story bro

18
by TGT2 (not verified) :: Thu, 10/01/2009 - 1:24pm

My take on DE: At least it's not Jersey. Also, the tolls are skippable if you're willing to cut through parts of UDel.

27
by Bobman :: Thu, 10/01/2009 - 2:05pm

Bite me.

36
by Hurt Bones :: Thu, 10/01/2009 - 3:14pm

I'm getting nostalgic (tear in my eye). Exiting at 896, cutting behind the McDonald's to double back on Chestnut Hill to Iron Hill road then on to 279 and back on to 95 all to avoid the toll. Back when I could afford to summer in Cape May. I must have done it a hundred times.

20
by The Guy You Don't Want to Hear (not verified) :: Thu, 10/01/2009 - 1:32pm

I never knew Delaware was so hated.

Minnesota is as far east as I've ever been, so I won't comment about it--I was just surprised by this general dislike of the state (with no one so far saying otherwise).

32
by Independent George :: Thu, 10/01/2009 - 2:18pm

There's only one thing I hate more than people who don't respect other cultures, and that's the Dutch.

50
by Kevin from Philly :: Thu, 10/01/2009 - 8:07pm

It's not so much hate as resentment. Unless you live there, there's absolutely no reason to be there. That said, if you have to pass through it to get somewhere, all you see are toll booths that force you to pay for the privelege of getting out of Delaware.

21
by GlennW :: Thu, 10/01/2009 - 1:34pm

I have fond memories of Rehoboth Beach from my childhood (including of some killer waves, for my size), but I was just a dumb kid and may not have known any better...

53
by Jeremy B. :: Thu, 10/01/2009 - 9:58pm

The Delaware beaches are quite worthy (my family favored Bethany Beach), and if you're looking for something to praise in Delaware, I'd go with them.

54
by dmb :: Thu, 10/01/2009 - 10:16pm

The only time I've come close to going to Delaware was when I was a junior in high school, and my mom's side of the family had a reunion of sorts at Bethany Beach. However, I ended up not going because I had to be at home in Montana for drumline obligations (I know, dorky), and was surprised to hear that I'd actually missed out. I still have the t-shirt my family brought back, though.

22
by Independent George :: Thu, 10/01/2009 - 1:39pm

I'm waiting for Part II, where Mr. Tanier walks us through his visit with the guy who knows a guy, followed by Part III where he explains his attempts to get handicapped parking sticker following his "accident".

26
by GlennW :: Thu, 10/01/2009 - 1:48pm

The much more common scenario in the experience of my distant youth is that the guy whom your guy knows goes on a big losing streak (and/or is arrested) and disappears forever. That would have been my response to the surly waitress who asked, "Don't you know a bookie?" A legal state-run book does have its advantages.

31
by Independent George :: Thu, 10/01/2009 - 2:17pm

Actually, now that I think about it, the much more logical outcome would be for the following week's Walkthrough column to explain how the stars have all aligned for playoff runs by STL, OAK, and TB, and that now was the time to place your bets before the rest of the media picked up on it.

29
by Bobman :: Thu, 10/01/2009 - 2:08pm

Does no one else here appreciate the poetry of the restaurant name "Beefstro"? I may have to legally change one of my kids' names to that, just so i can appreciate it 24/7. I literally cannot stop laughing. May have to make a cross-country pilgrimage just to have my picture taken outside. Maybe next time I go down the shore. Actually dining there would be, as Eric Bogosian once said, the icing on the gravy. In this case, probably literally.

33
by Admorish (not verified) :: Thu, 10/01/2009 - 2:30pm

I think the joke about actually dining there is as good as it will get. Keep Beefstro in your heart, but never go there if you want to keep your Beefstro innocence.

39
by TomC :: Thu, 10/01/2009 - 4:01pm

"the icing on the gravy" --- I'm personally envisioning a poutine cake. Mmmmmmm.

42
by Tundrapaddy (not verified) :: Thu, 10/01/2009 - 5:19pm

I think 'Beefstro' might be better than my coworker's restaurant idea - 'Jesus Christ Supersteak'.

In musical costume, of course.

34
by DelawareSteeler (not verified) :: Thu, 10/01/2009 - 2:38pm

lmao! I go to school right near delaware park...theres a resturant right down the road called border cafe with a huge sign that says "eat" that i like a lot...of course i am from delaware so my taste probobly sucks

all that aside, i never thought i'd see a full length article about delaware on football outsiders...thanks for this

40
by jebmak :: Thu, 10/01/2009 - 4:52pm

On the way from north-central Indiana to Indianapolis, there is a combination restaurant/gas station with a sign that says, "Eat Here and Get Gas."

37
by dkbergen :: Thu, 10/01/2009 - 3:15pm

I did it like this! I did it like that! I did it with a wiffle ball bat!

43
by DEguy (not verified) :: Thu, 10/01/2009 - 6:06pm

Anyone actually live in Delaware? You don't pay tolls and everything works much better and is cheaper than big cities. The complaints for driving through Delaware have no meaning to living here. And in New Castle County it's mostly Eagles fans.

And the Border Cafe is great.

47
by Another DEguy (not verified) :: Thu, 10/01/2009 - 7:46pm

Delaware is clearly ranked too low because Tanier = moron. Claymont rules!!

60
by mjb :: Fri, 10/02/2009 - 6:26pm

As a another Delawarian, I also don't get it the critisim by people complaining about the tolls in Delaware. Hey, we just took the idea from New Jersey! Have any of you ever tried driving up to New York from Philly? And if Tanier properly planned this trip the only toll he should have paid is get out of New Jersey itself!

That leads me to ask "Just what kind of trip planning did you do, Mike?" All you had to do to find food is take Delaware Park Boulvard (the road you had to take to get into the Casino) until it turns into Churchmans Road just following that you should find plenty of restaurants, bars, and even a Hometown Buffet if you wish. Or even take State Route 7 to the Christiana Mall where there are even more restaurants. Of course to do this you would have to actually leave Delaware Park, which might explain why the Casino employees were less than helpful. The Casino doesn't make any money if you leave to eat else where.

Oh, and the Border Cafe is good...but when crowded it can get a bit loud in there.

57
by bengt (not verified) :: Fri, 10/02/2009 - 10:03am

So, which car did you take? The Red Shark or The White Whale?
Well done, Hunter S. Tanier!