There’s always a period of mourning following my annual pilgrimage to Vegas. There’s of course, exhaustion. And naturally a pile of real-world things that need tending upon return. But more than anything, I just have to go through a bit of sadness knowing that I must wait another 360 days for this much fun.
CzabeVegas 6 was a rousing success. And it had nothing to do with me hitting my $1,000 pop this year, thanks to Gonzaga and Steve Alford pulling his starters with a 12 point game and 53 second remaining (dumb, but whatever dude, thanks!).
The event was a success because of the listeners who took a chance and came out to be a part of it. Without you guys (and gals) I would just be a bald lonely dummy with a sunburn on my neck from golfing, watching the games in solitude.
Instead, we turned this into a veritable “Steve Czaban Show” tent revival!
I have a lot of GREAT video footage of the events from the Ainsworth at the Hard Rock. And I plan to whip that into a nice little produced piece soon. In the meantime, here’s some photos, with explanations.
First, the above photo is of a group of us (not everyone) who were part of a party bus that went to the Foundation Room at Mandalay Bay and then Tryst nightclub at the Wynn. The assemblage of people was very haphazard, starting with me and my golf buddies, and then incorporating some other friends and CzabeVegas regulars, and then adding last minute “come-alongs” like Mr. X and another young buck I’d just me.
I insisted we go get a picture at the famous “Welcome to Vegas” sign, which now has it’s own parking lot to accommodate large groups and many cars of tourists wanting a photo. It’s a great idea by the city of Las Vegas. Once we stumbled out of the limo bus, a guy with a professional camera and an iPad approached.
“Hey guys… how’s it going…” he said. I immediately shot back: “Okay.. how much.”
He was calm and understanding of what probably sounded like a dickish response by me, but then explained that he has no “set rate” but rather he “gets paid by generosity.”
“You’re hired,” I said “let’s go.”
So we marched to the sign, and he proceeded to get this shot above, plus about a dozen more. Then he instantly air-dropped the hi-res pics to us via his iPad, and we were gone in less than 15 minutes. I paid him $60 and it was the best money spent all weekend. Had we tried to get a stranger to take a picture using our stupid phones, it would have been all dark and blurry and worthless.
I would highly recommend it.
There were highlights galore, like riding a mechanical bull at Planet Hollywood, the cart girl Amber at Bali Hai, watching not one but two of our listeners actually make (and win!) their FIRST sports wagers in their life, and of course the great Roy Wood Jr. buying the entire room shots of Fireball and leading a toast!
Thanks to the Hard Rock for hosting us, and thanks to my trusted wingman Scott Linn for doing great work meetin’ n’ greetin’ as well as Mikey O’Neil for playing door security, and Eric Git’r’done! for working the camcorder as I lost my mind celebrating the Gonzaga $1k win!
I can’t guarantee CzabeVegas 7 next year, but God-willing, this great tradition will endure for many years to come!
It’s that time of year, once again! CzabeVegas 6: Bigger, Badder, Stupider.
Or something like that.
I can’t wait to see everyone who has enlisted this year in our twin “Watch Parties” at the Hard Rock’s Ainsworth Lounge. If you couldn’t make it, just start scheming to make 2016 a reality.
Above are the commemorative coins/ID badges for this year’s event. I couldn’t resist immortalizing that a-hole Nik Stauskas of Michigan who cost somebody $1000 by missing a free throw at the end of their game against Tennessee (which, BTW, was WELL in hand before a slow motion second half train wreck).
Who will make the 2016 coin? We shall see. Maybe one of our listeners who does something incredibly heroic/stupid. You never know.
Now, if you have ever wondered about the origins of my silly words for the CBS College Basketball Theme song, then watch this video below.
Note 1: Herb Alpert DID go to USC, but I sincerely doubt he was a basketball fan.
Note 2: ESPN anchor Bram Weinstein actually came up with the “Come on and watch some basketball” hook line for the song. He was hosting a show on our local radio station in Washington DC about 10 years ago, and I heard him riff this one night while I was driving home.
Bram is a talented guy, who pushed his way to a solid spot on the World Wide Leader. He has a silly goofy sense of humor, so I wanted him to have credit for the “hook” lest I get sued someday like Pharrell Williams.
Of course, Bram did not write any further lyrics, that was all my doing. Including the “Coach K is gay” line, which 10 years ago looked completely harmless. It was meant in the way we meant that term growing up. Not homosexual (and not that there’s anything wrong with that) but rather “gay” as in “a jerk.”
Someday, I get the feeling I will need to change that to “Coach K is GRAY” in reference to amazing ability to maintain jet black hair, well into his 60’s.
Finally, I leave you with a video of one of the early CzabeVegas-es, when it was a more intimate affair. And also with my buddy Cowboy Mike’s Sure-Fire-Never-Lose-Unless-It-Does way to play craps.
Viva Las Vegas! See ya’ll Monday!
Lessons from my glorious 12 year run at craps:
By “Cowboy Mike”
1. There is no such thing as a good strategy or bad strategy. Like a lottery ticket, a dumb bet is dumb until it hits…then it’s smart. That said, I suggest you pick a strategy for a session (or weekend) and stick with it. For example, don’t flip from the Pass Line to the Don’t Pass — because you will almost certainly lose both ways and feel like the biggest loser in Vegas.
2. Most important: Find that guy or girl. They are very rare and extremely difficult to locate, but some people are just plain lucky. You will know them when you see them — something about how they act or talk or smile. These people cannot lose. I cross paths with one about every third or fourth trip. The one lucky guy or girl will cover all your losing bets that week. All of them. Keep your eye out for these precious people. It is the most important lesson here. And when they tell you how to bet, don’t think — just do whatever they tell you.
3. If you are fortunate enough to play alongside him, when Lucky Guy leaves the table, walk away. You won’t want to leave, but you must. Luck follows these rare people, and as soon as they leave your table will turn to ice. Guaranteed. It’s hard to quit because winning is so much fun, and you’ll tell yourself that maybe it wasn’t Lucky Guy who brought all that good fortune — but you’ll be wrong. Color up, and move on.
4. Proper Beer Level is just as important in craps as it is in golf. Everyone has their own level, but find yours and maintain it for the session. .
5. Trying to use sheer will to turn a cold table warm does not work — except when it does. I have had success by not giving up too soon, but it’s hard to know when to quit on a bad table. But when you do cash out, walk away and keep walking. Don’t hover just to see how the table gets — it’s bad luck and nothing good can happen (if the table heats up you’re pissed because you stopped playing, and if the table stays cold you feel glad seeing other people lose…which is not what Vegas is about).
6. The second hottest chick at the table will do better than the hottest chick. Seen it a million times. Everybody wants the hot chick to throw a hot roll so they load up, but she will seven-out right away. The next chick, however, will quietly hit a few points and put some money in your pocket.
You can’t beat this stuff. And you can’t kill it.
Yet the experts say college basketball is worse than ever, and that the game is facing a “crisis.”
Scoring is down, possessions are down, field goal percentage is down, even regular season attendance is down.
I didn’t think about ANY of that while watching these games over the last four days.
All I saw was passionately played basketball, by players with skillets that would have been unthinkable 30 years ago. The joy of the players and coaches when they win, is undoubtedly real. As are the tears and hushed voices when they lose.
And despite some cynics saying these kids are only in school to play basketball, if you open your ears and do a little research, you’ll be amazed that many of best players you see, are also legitimately good students.
If you still have all this, and if you have networks happily handing over huge checks to televise it, you don’t have a problem. You have some ragged edges to smooth over.
Let’s pay the players, shorten the shot clock, and spend a boatload of money to buy a bunch of “full-time” referees.
That’ll “fix” this game that’s in a near “crisis.”
By the way, the subject of paying athletes is going to come up again this week, so let me re-state my stance that such an idea is insane.
Unless NCAA Division I schools are struggling to find enough warm bodies to accept their deal of “books-tuition-TV-coaching-training-tutoring-for-play” there’s no need to make them pros.
I believe the reason guys like Jay Bilas are so annoyingly preachy about paying the players, is because he’s making a seven figure salary these days just TALKING about the game. At best, he’s probably harboring some serious guilt. At worse, he’s afraid of being called a hypocrite.
Of course paying these kids would be the equivalent of poisoning the oak trees at Toomer’s Corner. A certain and fairly swift death of what this event means to the average fan, would follow.
This tournament still resonates in a social-media-ugly world, because of it’s corny-ness. It’s Roy Williams bouncing into the lockeroom to do a dance and lead a chant with 19 year olds. It’s Ron Turner breaking down in tears rubbing the head of his star player son, R.J. It’s Pat Connaghton’s parents being isolated and mic’d up for the cameras, agonizing over every play.
One shining moment, indeed.
College basketball has never been better, and anyone who think otherwise is hostage to hopeless nostalgia.
More good players are on more good teams, in more far flung parts of the country than ever before. More games are on television, in the most glorious high definition, across the most amount of networks ever.
You can buy more sweatshirts and read more in-depth coverage on more basketball dedicated websites than ever. From anywhere!
But no, the college game is not the NBA. Sorry.
If you want to boost scoring, that can easily be done. They tried it early in the 2013 season with an emphasis on “freedom of movement”, and it worked. Then like a dog distracted by a squirrell, the sport just sorta forgot about all that, and the downward offensive trends resumed.
You want the simple answer to why scoring and attendance are sagging? It’s simple.
Players are faster and more explosive vertically than ever. Thus, getting off a clean shot today is harder than opening a clamshell package wearing mittens. Faster players initiate more contact, contest more shots at the rim, and guard tenaciously out to 23 feet and beyond. The only way to loosen the death grip of wickedly athletic defense, is to call fouls.
Lots of them.
You’ll need to foul out 3 players per team for about a year and a half solid. Then things will change. If the sport can withstand the inevitable shrieks of “let them play!”
The attendance issue is one that every sport is going to have to battle the next 20 years. Television is so good now, and so many games are shown “for free” (cable bill, not included) that it’s only natural more people are staying home.
Inducing fans to actually show up, is going to necessarily involve reducing ticket prices, which the big business of college sports won’t like. There’s no reason why a live sporting event shouldn’t cost the same thing as a movie.
Hell, the chances of a game totally sucking is far less than a movie you choose to see, and there’s no parking lot lines at the cineplex.
Both of these are manageable problems. They are not existential threats to the game.
… is posted. God help you if you follow my picks.
Last place, guaranteed!