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As I See It

22 June 2002

Here are some final thoughts as I prepare to take off a few weeks. I'll be back when the college and pro seasons start to kick in, around the first of August.

In the oops category, thanks again to Peter and Baron for correcting my error concerning Holyfield in the last column. Sometimes I stare at this computer, re-check my facts and still get it wrong. But you guys are too sharp.

Well, with the passing of Jack Buck, I suppose the only home town announcer left is Vin Scully. Okay, everyone raise your hand if you did this countless times: Revisit the '60s and '70s, before ESPN and scorephone … how many of you drove around in your car to the spot where you could pick up out-of-town broadcasts of games?

I didn't know Jack Buck's name back then, but I did know the voice through all the static on the car radio that was brought in on KMOX from St. Louis, or Joe Nuxhall doing the Reds' wrap-up show from Cincinnati.

In the Pittsburgh area, our icon with Bob Prince, who covered the Pirates on KDKA. I can still remember his catch phrases, from "bug on the rug" to "chicken on the hill with will". The last was a reference to Willie Stargell when we needed a blast late in the game.

How many times did you stretch the extension cord through the house to the back porch and fall asleep because your east coast team was on a west coast trip? It was after midnight with the game not yet decided, and there was school next morning.

I remember listening to probably the most famous Pirates game in history. It was the night in 1959 that Harvey "The Kitten" Haddix pitched a perfect game through nine, only to lose in extra innings when Don Hoak bobbled a grounder to third, and Joe Adcock put one off the wall in right center to spoil The Kitten's bid for at least a no-hitter.

The next day, I went to school and along with my classmates, did the same thing. We all replayed the game with Bob Prince and died a thousand deaths along the way, but it was worth every single pitch.

Jack Buck was cut from the same cloth, and even with all the excellent play-by-play guys in today's broadcast world, with his passing it will never have the same flavor.

By the way, I lost my case $10 the night Haddix got beat.

On to another subject, the contest update. Not much to report. I have spoken to some old friends who run a few shops in Vegas about my idea of a contest with a really big payout. But they basically backed up like a Georgia mule when I suggested they should guarantee a million dollars in prize money.

As you know, every contest has fine print that lets the sportsbook base prize money upon signups. The Hilton contest, for example, which has an entry fee of $1,500, actually takes out around 30 percent of entry fees before it starts giving out money.

What all these guys are missing is there would be so many players signing up themselves or using a proxy, that they would need two stenographers to keep track of the field. The Hilton contest averages around 250 players per year, and the winner, I believe, receives around $150K for first place.

You do the math. The entry fee is $1,500 for the Hilton. What if we structured a contest just like the Hilton's and had an entry fee of $1,000? I bet they would get over 1,000 entries.

But, unfortunately, the crucial word for the sportsbooks is "guarantee". They envision a worst case scenario that would be a catastrophe in which they get 50 signups a week before the season starts, and the "suits" would be wagging their fingers in the sportsbook director's face.

I am convinced it would work. But unfortunately, I do not have a voice in the industry as I once did.

The fantasy contest still has a blink of hope as an outfit from Ireland called cdmsports.com has been in touch. They truly liked the idea, but it might need a year to set it up properly.

So I'm still pitching, but everything is just off the plate, low and outside for the time being. We're still open if anyone wants to jump in and run with one of my ideas.

In a few weeks, I'll be in touch again. Meanwhile, write me at vaccarosports@lvcm.com or check out jimmyvaccaro.com.

I'll close on this note. I could even listen to a soccer game in my car if Bob Prince were announcing it.

Take care and stay smart,

Jimmy V.

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