GELFAND: That Ain't My Truck....and a Week 16 Pick

Mandatory Credit: Jim Dedmon-USA TODAY Sports

That ain’t my truck in her drive
Man this ain’t my day tonight
Looks like she’s in love and I’m out of luck
That ain’t my shadow on her wall
Lord this don’t look good at all
That’s my girl, my whole world
But that ain’t my truck

And so we consider the phenomenon known as the Bad Beat. I probably can’t articulate the experience any better than Rhett Akins did in his 1995 hit, but you get the idea. Whether it’s as important as love or as transitory as a lost wager, it’s a universal phenomenon known to any creature with a limbic brain.

Because I’m an expert only on the wagering aspect, I’ll ignore the love stuff for now. But before I do, I’ll offer this one little insight: the bad wagering beat exists only in the mind of gamblers who have not yet crossed over into the degeneracy zone. Once you’ve made a few thousand wagers, you probably will come to realize that there are no longer any bad beats; there are just beats.

If you lose your dream job to the brother-in-law of your boss, that’s a bad beat. If you are left at the altar, that’s a bad beat. If you are getting 13 1/2 and lose by 14 in overtime, that just a beat. Unless it drives you insane, you will be on the other side some day, although it might take a few decades.

But my Millennial friends are just discovering the gambling version. Most of them are relatively new to America’s fastest growing form of dissolution. You might even say that as legal sports wagering spreads across the country and off-shore gambling becomes as common as the Amazon Economy, Millennials may one day be known as the Bad Beat generation.

Because of the likes of Dick Vitale and Booger McFarland, I no longer pay attention to any un-muted version of ESPN. But my younger friends have alerted me to an apparently popular (relatively speaking) feature of SportsCenter known as — yes — Bad Beat. It’s safe to say that content is not an issue for this feature. Saturdays alone often feature well over 100 basketball games on which a gambler can lose money.

On these nights, somewhere close to 500 referees are employed, and the odds are that the vast majority will not be entirely competent. That alone makes for a lot of BBs.

The latest of these to go viral featured last week’s freak-out by Duquesne’s erratic coach, Keith Dambrot. The game was tied and seemingly headed for overtime when your standard charge-block dilemma confused one of the striped bandits. Actually, it was an obvious no-call to this impartial observer. But the ref in question called a block, sending Penn State to the line. This was when Dambrot’s frustration and mania combined to send him over the edge. By the time his remonstration had been contained, the refs had called two technical fouls.

The Nittany Lions hit all six free throws, giving them a 73-67 lead. The margin held and Duquesne, which was getting 5 1/2, suffered the BB.

Or so, I guess, that’s how it looked to neophyte gamblers who have within the last few years discovered the adult toy known as the offshore betting site.

In time, such defeats will seem a bit more measured. The That Ain’t My Truck losses will relegate gambling losses to mere trifles. Today’s neophyte Millennial bettors will turn into dyspeptic and gray-haired degeneracy — probably by the age of about 40.

Luckily, I have forgotten all of the losses I once thought were Bad Beats. Except, perhaps, for that time, back in ’81, when I bet the Chargers over 62 1/2 and was sailing along after a 58-point first half. And not one damned point was scored in the second half.

Because, as it turns out, sometimes your truck ain’t in the driveway because it was repoed.

After my fair-to-awful season was interrupted by a 7-0 run, the karma wheel boomeranged back to me and hit me right in the bankroll. I am far from desperate, but it so happens that I like one game this week and so I’m going to step out.

Pittsburgh at New Orleans

Here I channel my inner-foodie when I say that the Saints are highly esteemed for their heirloom offense. But it ain’t as free-range as it used to be. I fondly recall the Saints’ vaunted hurry-up offense. But that was then. These days, New Orleans likes to snap the ball in that indefinable moment between the 0 and the whistle. The stats tell the story, although perhaps not the whole story. New Orleans is averaging 62.8 plays per games at home, fewer snaps per game than all but eight other teams.

The Saints are not even Brees-like lately. In his most recent four contests, Brees is averaging just 201 passing yards. We’re talking about a dude who, in all his games with the Saints, is averaging more than 300 passing yards per game. Brees is still terrific, but I think I’m seeing signs that, after just turning 39, he has inevitably lost a bit of arm strength. Which, I think, is why New Orleans is slowing down games — running more, passing less, and more inclined toward short throws. Last week I saw Alvin Kamara standing about 20 yards downfield, begging for the ball on the right sideline. By the time the ball arrived, two defenders were there to break up what should have been an easy completion.

Dec 17, 2018; Charlotte, NC, USA; New Orleans Saints running back Alvin Kamara (41) gets tackled by Carolina Panthers middle linebacker Luke Kuechly (59) and free safety Mike Adams (29) during the fourth quarter at Bank of America Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jeremy Brevard-USA TODAY Sports

Of course, it’s possible that the Steelers will eat up a lot of yardage in the air; now that they’re down to their third-string running back, Ben Roethlisberger is going to throw the ball at least 40 times. Much has been made about Big Ben’s home-away dichotomy, and perhaps that’s inflated a bit. However, going back three years, the Steelers have gone under in regular season away games to the tune of 21-3-1. I have to admit that when I put these numbers together, it kind of blew my mind.

Meanwhile, the Saints have gone under in five straight, and yet the total hasn’t been adjusted as much as I might have¬†expected. So…

The Pick: Saints 24, Steelers 20 — Under 53 for a mythical $150.


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