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Las Vegas Expert Picks: Tales From The Vault & NBA H-O-R-S-E

Las Vegas Expert Picks

Vegas veteran Benjamin Eckstein, author of America’s Line, brings three decades of experience to make weekly picks in his “Ecks & Bacon” column.

LAS VEGAS — From the MAKE ’EM LAUGH/MAKE ’EM CRY vault, here is my EPIC story of me making MILLIONS of readers cry.

Make ’Em Laugh/Make ’Em Cry

C’mon back with me to the start of the 1988 baseball season, and the ugliest of ugly, the HISTORICALLY inept (at least in the American League) Baltimore Orioles, who lost 21 in a row to start the season. The BIGGEST losers EVER were the 1961 Philadelphia Phillies, who lost 23 straight. For those that might ask, we’re not counting any streaks from the 1800s. 

I had been handicapping baseball games in my Pitching Form for like five, six years, and doing pretty well. 

So, when the O’s losing streak hit 13, I came up with this BRILLIANT idea. I’m like, they gotta win soon, and I’ll grab ’em, then double up my wager until they win. C’mon, how many more games could they lose? Turned out, it was EIGHT. Shoulda paid attention to the GREAT Tim Kurkjian, who was covering the Birds for the Baltimore Sun and wrote “All you need to know about the 0-3 Baltimore Orioles is that they’re hitting .143, they have been outscored, 18-1.” Foreshadowing?

Still, I’m thinking, why not press. It was actually a pretty AMAZING lineup, with two future Hall of Famers, Cal Ripken Jr. and Eddie Murray, and a shoulda-been-in-the-Hall-of-Fame Fred Lynn. Add another Hall of Famer, Frank Robinson, as the manager.

My readers were and are average joes, some called us SQUARES, betting $25, maybe 50 bones per game. So, I bet the Orioles in game 14, for a quarter, and naturally, they lost, 8-6 at Milwaukee. Plunked down $50 on game 15, and they lost, 7-1 to Milwaukee. Doubled up to $100 for game 16, and yup, they lost again to Milwaukee, 13-1. Squeezed 200 bucks out of the wallet for game 17, and yes, they lost at Kansas City, 4-3.

Was on the hook for $400 in game 18, and they lost again to the Royals, 3-1. This is now getting kinda serious because at the time, I was probably making around $300 per week. Gotta stay the course, so went to the bank, back in the day when you actually had to walk into a bank and TALK to a teller, and withdrew 800 bones for game 19. Of course, they lost, 4-2 at Minnesota.

Enough is Enough, Right?!

At this point, I advised my millions of readers to shut it down and eat the losses. But like a total PUTZ, I was gonna stay with my program till these lame O’s won a game. Hit the kid’s college fund for $1,600, called my guy (everyone had a GUY back in the day), and pushed ONE THOUSAND SIX HUNDRED BONES into the center of the table for game 20. This would be the last of it, win or lose. Had lefty Scott McGregor on the hill for the O’s, coming off a 2-7 record in 1987, against future Hall of Famer Bert Blyleven. Shoulda stayed away but HAD to play the streak. It was an OBSESSION. Guess what? Another Baltimore loser, 7-6.

So, we’re coming up to game 21. Do I hit my son’s bar mitzvah stash, or just crawl into a corner and barf? I would have to find 3,200 bucks, which doesn’t sound like a fortune, but in today’s dollars, it would be a little over $7,000. And for a working stiff with a wife and four kids, making three hundred and change a week, had to finally put a full stop on the wagers.

Actually, NO I DIDN’T. Game 21 was a Thursday afternoon affair, with Mike Boddicker on the bump for the Birds against Minny’s Allan Anderson. LUCKY 21 BABBBEEE!!! Uh, NOPE. The Orioles lost again 4-2. With no chance of doubling up to 6,400 bones, unless I sold my Mickey Mantle autographed glove, this time, it REALLY was a FULL STOP! Of course, at this point, you all know what happened next. Game 22 was a Friday nighter in Chicago against the White Sox, with Mark Williamson on the hill for Baltimore against Jack McDowell. Final score, Orioles 9-0!  

At least I learned my lesson and since that HORROR SHOW, have NEVER, EVER bet into a streak again.

This DID make me cry at times, but NEVER had so much publicity in my working life for being such a LOSER. It’s the old adage, “Love me or hate me, but PLZ spell my name right.”

Ya got one that made you cry? Hit my email, ben@americasline.com.   

NBA H-O-R-S-E Challenge

Betting on horses is not my thing, but betting on H-O-R-S-E is right in my wheelhouse. Before we break down the competition, some good news. State Farm is the sponsor and plans to donate more than $200,000 on behalf of the participants to charities focused on coronavirus response efforts. Make it a MILLION and that would be GREAT news!!! 

OK, down to busine$$. There will be eight players and they’ll start Sunday on ESPN. In the top bracket, you’ll have Trae Young vs Chauncey Billups and Tamika Catchings vs Mike Conley Jr. The bottom bracket will feature Paul Pierce vs Zach LaVine and Chris Paul vs Allie Quigley.

Since this is the year of the WOMAN, I’m gonna drop a few chips on both Tamika Catchings and Allie Quigley. 

You know Tamika Catchings, the newly elected Hall of Famer, and she is totally worth a shot at +1500. C’MON. Her resume is a BEAST! She has won a WNBA championship (2012), WNBA MVP, WNBA Finals MVP (2012), FIVE WNBA Defensive Player of the Year Awards (2005, 2006, 2009, 2010, 2012), FOUR Olympic gold medals (2004, 2008, 2012, 2016), and the WNBA Rookie of the Year (2002).

Oh yeah, you can throw in an NCAA crown as well. You can also throw in a quintuple-double. Didn’t even know that existed, but she recorded the first-ever quintuple-double (25 points, 18 rebounds, 11 assists, 10 steals and 10 blocks). Talk about STUFFING the stat sheet!

You know Tamika, but you might not be familiar with Allie Quigley. Her full name is Alexandria “Allie” Quigley, and she is an American-Hungarian professional basketball player for the Chicago Sky of the WNBA. Quig played for DePaul University in Chicago. After graduating in 2008, Quigley was drafted by the Seattle Storm with the 22nd overall pick in the 2008 WNBA Draft. She also won back-to-back Three-Point Contests in 2017 and 2018. Giving her a little love at +1000.

Will also tickle Zach LaVine at +350, because he should cruise into the semifinals with an easy W against Paul Pierce, who has not played in the show since 2017. You all KNOW the TRUTH. Double P is gonna be rusty with cobwebs hanging off his shorts. 

Benjamin Eckstein is a nationally syndicated sportswriter/oddsmaker. His column, America's Line, with the Ecks & Bacon appetizer, has run in the New York Daily News and over 100 other papers since 1988. You can follow him online at www.americasline.com. He is beloved by most, when he picks winners, and detested by others, when he picks the occasional loser. If you wanna piece of Eck, hit his Email...ben@americasline.com.