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Money Teams… Every Sport Has Them
His name was Mudcat. That was his nickname. His real name was James “something”, and like he told me early on, “you won’t remember my name”. He pushed a Schwegmans supermarket shopping cart along Canal Street during the 10 days of Mardi Gras in New Orleans. It was filled with pre-wrapped cotton candy, LSU and Ole Miss football pendants, fragile Kewpie Dolls and other useless, low priced souvenirs that every tourist had to have before leaving town after Fat Tuesday.
Without bragging, he once told me he made $100 a day pushing that cart, somedays $200 or more, especially on weekends. But he supplemented his income by sport gambling, betting horses, sports wagering on basketball and football games… and concentrating on money teams. Early one late January Sunday, I bumped into him at the nearby Bookie Joint on Saint Charles Avenue and made the mistake of asking who he liked. The Minnesota Vikings were in a march to the Super Bowl and had only one more game to win. They were the home team that day.
“Who do I like?”, he seemed surprised by my question. “I have to like the Vikings… whether I like them or not.
They’re home. They are the team to bet when playing at home. They always seem to beat the spread whether favored or not… when playing at home.”
“Are you sure about that?” I asked without missing a beat. I was new to all this, having recently served in VietNam and having returned home without a scratch. I was learning how to bet from a real pro )or so I thought) , and I wanted to hear all sides while I had the chance. Kansas City was playing at home, in the later AFL playoff game, and the Winner would be meeting the NFL winner (possibly Minnesota), in the New Orleans Superdome, for Super Bowl bragging rights.
“Kansas City Chiefs, AT HOME, is a well known money making team, especially when underdogs. In college football, Notre Dame, Southern Cal, Oklahoma and Penn State… those teams bring home the money. In the SEC, conference home dogs are money teams.” He was on a roll, and a small group had gathered around. He also proved to be right, at least that day. Both Minnesota and Kansas City won conference championsips and went on to meet in the Super Bowl. I remember it well; MVP Len Dawson quarterbacked his Chiefs to a Super Bowl victory, and Hank Stram, the winning head coach was always dapper wherever he appeared.
Mardi Gras came and went. The New Orleans Fair Grounds was winding down its horse racing season. Weeks after my first handicapping lesson, I bumped into Mudcat in the Fair Grounds grandstand and he looked like it was time to leave town. “Who do you like?” he asked, as we were 10 minutes away from the New Orleans Handicap, a stakes race for 4 year olds and up offering a big purse for the winner.
“I like Combat Ready”, I replied, revealing my palmed $20 Win ticket, no place, no show. “He’s twelve to one. Why do you like him?”
“He’s my Money Horse.” Handing my Racing Form to Mudcat, so he could read the past performances, I could see he needed a shave, and a bath. I was raised to be polite and to respect my elders.
“He went out of town in his last race, up to Aqueduct and got beat as a two to one favorite.” said the Mudcat, making me regret my pick. And the race before that one he was favored in an Allowance race at this distance, and after leading to the half, he LOST that one too.”
“Suddenly, feeling like a young fool, I blurted out: “That is why I like him. He’s burned a lot of money for his backers, and now is the time to cash in. No one but his stable and his pony horse likes him anymore.”
Having said all that, the 2-minute bell rang, Mudcat rushed to the windows to place his bet, and together we watched Combat Ready run the race of his life. He won easily, paying $26 and change for a $2 ticket.
“If you weren’t so ugly, I’d kiss you”, Mudcat shouted my way, as he headed for the nearest exit. I was relieved I wouldn’t be asked to loan him any money.
We never met again. I continued to live and learn, gaining wisdom with each bet placed on a Money Team, or a Money Horse. and I’ve got to say this about all that… sport gambling has given me more smiles than tears over the years. Keep your eyes, ears and mind open to improving your own sport gambling and sports wagering skills.