Kirby Lee/USA Today Sports

Thinking out loud: Sports betting in Rhode Island heating up

John Rooke
August 23, 2019 - 2:10 pm
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Thinking out loud…while wondering about pie.Yup, pie.

 

  • A shortfall in projected annual gambling revenue for the Ocean State?  Maybe not for long.  Our buddy Dan McGowan at the Boston Globe reported this week mobile sports betting should start in Rhode Island just in time for the NFL regular season.

 

  • No more waiting in hours’-long lines to play that parlay you just know will come through.  The state Department of Revenue says testing of the mobile app is already underway.  The goal is to have it ready for Week One.

 

  • More than 70% of all sports wagers in gambling-friendly Nevada and New Jersey come in through the use of cell phones and apps.

 

  • Ah, technology.  And to think I just learned this week what ‘ghosting’ someone means. 

 

  • I’m thinking the Patriots will be getting an early test to their depth-quality this season, if the attrition rate continues at the pace it did Thursday night in a 10-3 win over Carolina.  Remember, it is he who has the most toys at the end…that wins.

 

  • Special teams ace Brandon King will be missed, as he’s likely done for the year.  Ben Watson is in concussion protocol, but he will serve a 4-game suspension to start the season.

 

  • But the defense?  Whoa.  It IS preseason.  But it is a definite improvement in the pass-rush department from last season.  It could be nasty-good.  The #stairwaytoseven might not be as steep for New England as other teams’ fans might hope.

 

  • Ryan Allen could have been the Super Bowl LIII MVP against the Rams, continually keeping a prolific LA offense with a long field in front of it.  But he’s out…released this week by the team as rookie Jake Bailey’s big leg (and smaller salary) win out.

 

  • But good grief, have you seen Bailey’s hang time?  He’s a punter, people.  Let’s not lose our minds or our senses here, amiright?

 

  • Josh Gordon’s reinstatement tells me two things – 1) that NFL commish Roger Goodell is rooting for him, and 2) the league is (also) slowly coming around to the idea that all players (and their transgressions, alleged or otherwise) cannot be treated equally. 

 

  • Keep that in mind with the Patrick Chung breaking news this week.

 

  • I also believe #Rookestradamus called Gordon’s return, once the team exercised his contract option for this season. 

 

  • Now is not the time, however, to be predicting or taking prop bets on Gordon’s possible downfall…like the team’s own flagship radio station did last week.  C’mon fellas.  Have you had NO ONE in your lives, or in your family, suffer from addiction? 

 

  • Everyone deserves another shot at their lives…no matter how long it takes.

 

  • Some random, preseason NFL observations:  Kyler Murray won’t be ‘all that’ at Arizona.  If teams keep him from getting outside of the pocket, they’ll beat the Cardinals like a rented mule.

 

  • And Jimmy Garoppolo’s shine has left his star.  He’s had a rough preseason.  But it’s still only preseason – the football equivalent of an argument with your wife.  Your opinion, and his performance, is irrelevant.

 

  • Because Rams’ coach Sean McVay allowed himself to be mic’d up for a meaningless exhibition last week, social media was quick to call him the “anti-Belichick?”

 

  • When McVay wins his 6th Super Bowl as a head coach in this business, I’ll be happy to place him in the same conversation as Bill.  But right now, he doesn’t belong on the same sentence line, the same page – or in the same book – as BB. 

 

  • He’s barely on the same field.  He was punked last February. 

 

  • Great story about one-time Patriots’ nemesis Matt Millen (especially to former GM Patrick Sullivan) and his TV comeback.  After a heart transplant a year ago, Millen has returned to the Raiders’ broadcast booth this summer…and he will also resume his college analyst duties in the Big Ten.

 

  • Ex-Patriot and now-retired running back Shane Vereen didn’t take long to find work.  The SB XLIX hero will be joining Fox’s upcoming college football coverage this season.

 

  • Did you hear about former USA Soccer star and two-time World Cup champ Carli Lloyd drilling a 55-yard field goal at Eagles’ and Ravens’ practice this week?  She also hit several from 40+ yards, too, even though she wasn’t wearing pads and took too many approach steps. 

 

  • I know women have broken the gender barrier in the high school and lower college ranks in football.  But in the NFL?  To be completely fair – while I’d love to see someone try it someday – it won’t be anything more than an EEO media circus.

 

  • Or, until some team’s kicker duck-hook’s four in a row.  Just sayin’.

 

  • Not for nuthin’, but the incoming college freshman class this year was born in 2001.  They never knew “Y2K.”  They’ve never known Marshall Faulk not to be a butt-hurt jerk, the Red Sox were once destiny’s doormat or seen Evander Holyfield win a title belt.

 

  • You don’t know what ‘ghosting’ is, either?  It’s the simple process of ending a relationship – usually within social media – without an explanation.  Just disappear.  Unfriend.  Unfollow.  Rude, crude and socially unacceptable when it happens to you, but hey, what do I know?

 

  • Things that p*ss me off?  Slow driving in the left lane on a highway.  Does anyone understand the left lane is for PASSING on the highway? 

 

  • Apparently, every day was Sunday this week, because there were dozens – hundreds – of drivers out EVERY DAY for leisurely Sunday afternoon strolls.

 

  • And all chose the left lane for their lollygagging. Oh, and texting, too.  Burns me up. 

 

  • Two epitaphs on the Red Sox’ grave-marker for the 2019 season: 1) This team was awful at baserunning; 2) Here lie the remnants of a once proud, capable and all-star caliber starting pitching rotation, which often could not get out of the FIRST inning without runs being scored against them.

 

  • Blame?  Points to the coaching staff – managerial and otherwise.  This team was ill-prepared to play.  They’ll need to re-think this strategy, or they’ll need to look for work by this time next year. 

 

  • Dave Dombrowski admitted as much this week.  But, good grief, anyone can see they screwed this up.

 

  • Chris Sale’s 5-year deal for $145 million was NOT the worst contract ever offered by Sox management.  I mean, Pablo Sandoval – or have you forgotten recent history?

 

  • But if Sale misses ALL of next season due to injury – which is possible – it will rank up there in the Top 5 screwups, sure.

 

  • So that 5-year investment has already returned what – a World Series title?  Fine.  But Sale is/was an “ace,” and paid like one.  His price tag seems a bit much for the fragile health and returns gained thus far.  K’s are great and all, but I’ll take WOKs instead.

 

  • That’s Wins Over Strikeouts.

 

  • But you’re an optimist?  Please.  Don’t delude yourself into believing this Red Sox team can still make a run.  They can’t.  It’s over.  See the above epitaphs for evidence and avoid kicking yourself in the head later.

 

  • This is not being mean, or defeatist or being anything other than simply being a realist.  This team’s failures have little-to-nothing to do with years – decades – of previous flops in Sox history.

 

  • 2004, 2007, 2013 and 2018 notwithstanding, of course.  At least it ain’t first-to-worst.

 

  • And a very classy moment last Friday at Fenway, as the late Globe writer Nick Cafardo’s grandkids and family threw out the first pitch against Baltimore.  One of the most respected writers regardless of sport in the country, Nick suddenly passed away this past spring covering the team in Fort Myers.

 

  • And he’s missed around here every day, by those who knew him.  Which includes his readers.

 

  • The name Jack Whitaker may or may not bring about a memory to you.  But Mr. Whitaker was one of the most erudite, elegant broadcasters of the 20th century.  He passed away this past week at age 95, after long network runs at both ABC and CBS through the years.  His on-air essays always punctuated the big events with just the right amount of historical perspective, wit and personality.

 

  • Whitaker was a World War II veteran (landing on Omaha Beach in 1944), he covered Super Bowl I for CBS – where he was the last-surviving network announcer of that game.  Triple Crown racing was an area of expertise, and he was a major player in both networks’ pro golf coverage.  His writing was unmatched, and his delivery of those words was spellbinding. 

 

  • Former Chicago Bear, Cincinnati Bengal and University of Texas running back Cedric Benson tragically passed away this week following a motorcycle accident in Austin, TX.  Benson was just 36 years old, played from 2008-11 with the Bengals where he had his best NFL seasons after being drafted 4th overall by Chicago in ’05.

 

  • He died close to an intersection I used to traverse many, many times while in college.  And I always thought if you weren’t careful, someone could get killed there. 

 

  • PC senior associate athletic director Steve Napolillo tweeted out this week that student season tickets are already sold out for the basketball season at the Dunk – before classes begin.  1750 student season tickets for 2019-20 is the highest number ever sold in a single year.

 

  • That’s nearly half of the underclassmen in the entire student body.  Hype?  Yeah, but will those student seats be filled, somehow, for the early Big East games before classes start up again in January?

 

  • CBSSports.com conducted a survey of more than 100 college basketball coaches, asking them which DI school was the most underrated job in the country?  Gonzaga, Dayton and Memphis topped the list, but Providence, Xavier, Creighton and Harvard all received votes.  Harvard was actually 5th overall, tied with Marquette and Houston.

 

  • Mississippi State basketball – nailed by the NCAA with three years’ probation in a tutoring scandal.  Seems that a part-time tutor had become a full-time student for some football and basketball players.  But what about North Carolina, NC Two-A?

 

  • The ACC Network flipped its’ switch into the “on” position Thursday night, becoming the 4th of the five “football powers” to launch a network.  While the ACCN received unprecedented exposure when it signed on – simulcast on ESPN, ESPN2, ESPNU and ESPNNEWS – Comcast and Dish still haven’t seen the light.  Or the need.

 

  • Then again, the ACC won both the national football (Clemson) and basketball (Virginia) titles last year, so…that should make a solid statement, right there.

 

  • Just wondering.  Could a conference without football driving the bus – like the Big East – receive and create enough interest from within school cities for a TV network of their own?  Beyond the current Big East Digital Network?  A dedicated channel on Sirius/XM radio could also be a distant possibility.

 

  • 142.  That’s the number of football seasons Brown has fielded a team.  Preseason camp opens this weekend as James Perry returns to his alma mater as head coach, following two high-scoring seasons at Bryant.  The Bears kick-off Sept. 21st, at 6:00 pm, at Bryant.  Good planning with this one.

 

  • Meanwhile in Smithfield, Bryant opens next weekend at Stony Brook with new head coach Chris Merritt taking the helm after 18 highly successful seasons at Miami’s Columbus High School, producing well over 100 college football players...including three on the current Bulldogs’ roster.

 

  • At URI, the Rams practiced on their new turf this week at Meade Stadium for the first time, in preparation for the programs’ first night game in more than 30 years Sept. 7th against Delaware.  That there are any expectations in Kingston, at all, for football may also be a first in more than 30 years.

 

  • There will be a definite Rhode Island-lean with ABC-TV’s “Dancing with the Stars” series this fall.  One-time Rhody Ram hoop star and ex-Khloe Kardashian spouse Lamar Odom is a ‘cast member,’ while former Barrington resident, Portsmouth Abbey grad and former Presidential Press Secretary Sean Spicer will also share the spotlight. 

 

  • Must-see TV?  Hey, James Van Der Beek is also on the reality show, and he once played QB in the movie ‘Varsity Blues.’  Oh, and some guy named Ray Lewis is on it, too.

 

  • Bob Cousy’s receiving the Presidential Medal of Freedom this week was more noted for what he didn’t say about the President, than what he’s accomplished in his Hall of Fame career and lifetime.  Kind of a shame, if you ask me.

 

  • It’s my weakness.  I love to bake, too.  Several conversations this week centered around the baked dish filled with sweet and/or other savory fillings known as pie – what we like, don’t like, dessert or dinner, with coffee or an aperitif, ala mode or even with a slice of cheese.  Don’t knock it until you’ve tried it.

 

  • A friend and I argued over our Top Five’s – and I have to admit, it was tough to make a cut.  Even though the sweet tooth has been relegated to a bit-player within the current diet regimen, here are the five “must-haves” that made the cut: 1) Pumpkin 2) Key Lime 3) Lemon Meringue 4) Banana Crème 5) Blueberry.

 

  • Also receiving votes: Apple (ala mode or cheese), Pecan, Chocolate Cream, Meat, Chicken Pot Pie.  Mincemeat (a mixture of chopped dried fruit, spices and sometimes meat) received a resounding NFW.  Whipped cream was voted in as an acceptable accoutrement in the absence of ice cream. 

 

  • We now return you to your regularly-scheduled dietary restraints and restrictions.  But it was fun while it lasted…and I could almost taste them all.  In fact, I tried – at the Pie Happy Hour (3 to 5pm, M-F) at the Bluebonnet Café in Marble Falls, TX while on vacation.  Solid.

 

  • Pats fan Rob posted on Facebook: “Was I the only one hearing the cursing on Patriots’ broadcasting (Thursday night)? #Zolak #priceless”

 

  • Rob:  I didn’t hear Scott Zolak during the WBZ-TV call (as I was otherwise engaged), but I was certainly made aware of his “Oh s**t!” exclamation via social media as Kyle Van Noy took an early thump when tackling Cam Newton.  It’s easy to forgive an ex-player when he’s obviously sympathetic to the physicality of play on the field.  But as a media pro these days, there are certain FCC standards which broadcasters are expected to follow.  Sometimes, the two don’t always agree on language.

 

  • I’ve always said – as I’ve been taught, and as I currently teach – that you can say anything you want to say on TV or radio…once.  I’m sure Zo is aware of this as well, at least by now.

 

  • Interested in having your questions on local Rhode Island sports (and yes, that includes the Patriots, Red Sox, Bruins and Celtics) answered in a somewhat timely fashion? Send ‘em to me! It’s your chance to “think out loud,” so send your questions, comments and local stories to jrooke@weei.com. We’ll share mailbag comments/Facebook posts/Tweets right here! Follow me on Twitter, @JRbroadcaster…and on Facebook, www.facebook.com/john.rooke ...

 

Don’t forget to tune into Providence’s 103.7 FM, every Saturday from 7:00-9:00 am for Cordischi and Coit!  Call in at 401-737-1287 or text at 37937.