“San Francisco. Baltimore. San Francisco. Baltimore. San Francisco. Baltimore.”
“What are you doing?” says Adam Eget.
“I’m thinking out loud. What do you think?”
“But you’ve said the same thing for the last hour.”
“I’m overthinking out loud.”
“Who do you like in the Super Bowl?”
“You got a good feeling?"
I want to kill Adam Eget, but Gabe Veltri is back and he’s got food. He’s dressed neatly and has two full bags from 7-Eleven. He empties them into the middle of the room with contempt. Food spills and fills the center of the apartment: Twizzlers and Butterfingers and Rolos and Creamsicles and PayDays and more and more and more. Gabe’s fridge is filled with Coca-Cola — Mexican Coca-Cola with cane sugar. Eget and I haven’t left Gabe’s apartment in four days.
I like to gamble. Gamble money on sports. Gabe calls it flipping coins.
After a month of golf, Rory McIlroy and Tiger Woods are tied. For dead last.
Not that you’d know, unless you were watching golf. They've already been paid $4 million between them. Not winnings, appearance fees. Somebody smart once said 80 percent of success is just showing up. Here it’s 100 percent. You know you’re doing very well in life when you think you should be offered $3 million in exchange for your appearance.
“What do you charge?”
“I don’t know. What do you want me to do?”
“Just show up.”
“That’ll cost you!”
It doesn’t count as earnings because nothing about the money is earned. It’s found and given. Rory fell into 200 million unearned dollars from Nike last week. Least that’s what he thought. Turns out those clubs are gonna be very expensive to Rory.
Gabe’s still in Vegas and I’m here at the back of the World Famous Comedy Store on Sunset Boulevard. Adam Eget is hovering around me, his tremulous right hand running through hair four days unshowered, his left hand steadying itself on my shoulder, his rheumy eyes looking somewhere at my shirt. There’s a guy up onstage and I think he’s saying some pretty important things because people are clapping a lot while exchanging sad and knowing nods.
“Why don’t you do a set?” Adam asks.
“Do a set. People will get a kick out of it. It’s a good crowd tonight.”
“Nobody wants to see me do a set.”
“Sure they do. Everybody loves you. You’re a legend here at the Comedy Store.”
“Tell your waitress. Maybe she’ll stop charging me four and a quarter for a Coca-Cola.”
“You’re still thinking about Vegas, aren’t you?”
“The hell I am!”
I stagger up from the table while thinking about slugging Eget one. Right in his big squidbilly head. A few years ago I woulda too, back when I was young. But now the world is young and I’m a fat old man. So instead, I shamble up to the stage and do my surefire bit about my answering machine. Nobody gets a kick out of it. The whole time I’m thinking about last Friday, when I was happy in the middle of the night, somewhere in the desert.
The end of the hockey lockout couldn't have come soon enough for our friend Norm Macdonald. Here's his take, along with a retooling of his thoughts on the 1972 Summit Series, which ran in a slightly different form as a collection of tweets on his Twitter feed back in September of 2012.
“Our long national nightmare is over, Norm.”
They were a bunch of yahoos from Calgary in Vegas for the weekend. They must have spotted a Montreal Canadiens cap that I had forgotten was on my head. I was sipping coffee and waiting for football to start, just sitting at the back of the book. I got slapped on the back by a few of them. They were reading from their phones and telling me how Bettman had backed down, the sonofabitch, how they’d been up all night mediating, how they’d be playing 50 games starting in a couple of weeks, but how it didn’t matter much for my Habs, though. We all had a good laugh about that one.
“C’mon, Norm, let’s get you a Labatt's and do a little celebrating.”
“Never touch it, thanks.”
“C’mon, a Canadian without a beer?" said the biggest of the bunch. "That’s like an American without a handgun." He downed his Brador like it was a shot. We all had a good laugh about that one too.
I like to gamble. Gamble money on sports. I don’t drink, smoke, do drugs, or frequent, or even occasion, prostitutes. But I do like to gamble. Gamble money on sports.
I’m not alone, of course. People who like to use big numbers say that sports betting is a multibillion-dollar business in these United States. And most of that money is wagered on professional football.
I’ve been told I have a problem. A psychiatrist once said that I gambled in order to escape the reality of life. I told him that’s why everybody does everything. But he had a point. There’s a certain arc to my gambling sprees. An arc that begins with me making modest bets after much study, then ends months later with me having no money.
Norm Macdonald made two big New Year's resolutions. One was to start writing pieces for Grantland. The other is going to be revealed on Friday in his second piece for us. Today, he shares his thoughts on the 2013 PGA season.
2012, the golden year of golf, began with Phil.
Lefty beat Tiger by nine strokes on the final day at Pebble, winning his 40th PGA title. Eight weeks later, it was looking to be Phil’s year, as he was in the Ultimate Game on the final day of the Masters. But it all came apart when Phil carded a triple at the par-3 fourth, with the victory eventually going to another southpaw, the guy everybody loves to love, Bubba. Even Billy Payne looked happy to be presenting the green jacket to a man who had just cried like a woman.
At the Open, Ernie Els only led once and it was an hour after his last putt. He felt kinda bad about it. Adam Scott felt kinda worse.
Tiger, reinventing his game yet again, served notice that he was keeping the wolves of irrelevancy at bay by winning a sort of Legends Slam: first Arnie’s tourney, then Jack's and finally his own.