THE COUCH SLOUCH

Do you miss the sports world? Here are some futures wagers to keep you entertained

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Bye bye all American sports/

Drove my Chevy to the ballgame but it was out of sorts/

And those 'First Take' boys were talking madness in March/

Singing no Duke-Kansas say it's a lie/

That'll be the day that sports die

-- Don McLean's "American Pie II"

What do we do now?

Sports fans have put all their eggs in one basket for so long, they've tossed out every other basket in the house. So now, many of them, in the face of a deadly worldwide covid-19 pandemic, can only think, "Why does it all feel so empty?"

There's nothing left. I pride myself on keeping sports in perspective, yet on many nights I mindlessly graze from ESPN to FS1 to NBA TV to ESPN2 to NBCSN to Fox Sports West.

But this week?

I just saw Joe Lunardi on an L.A. exit ramp with a sign, "Will Bracketology for Food."

NBA, gone. NHL, gone. MLB, gone. Final Four, gone.

The one time I was going to turn to Major League Soccer? MLS, gone.

I always complain that sports occupy too big a presence in our lives, that our values are skewed and our priorities fouled up with the overemphasis on athletic glory. Yet I understand it is a companion for many, a constant entertainment-and-distraction option. It is an emotional crutch for millions, often the only beacon of light on an otherwise dark horizon.

I kind of miss it, too.

I clicked on the TV the other night and all I saw was a "Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives" marathon.

So I clicked off the TV, closed my eyes and saw my entire adult life flash before me – wasted hours, lost promise, salsa stains on the couch.

Toni, a.k.a. She Is The One (and Then Some), looked at me and said, "Let's talk."

Let's talk? What is she, nuts? We've only survived 12½ of years of marriage by not talking. Every time I open my mouth, it's an oral apocalypse; I haven't said the right thing since stammering out, "I do." The less I speak, the better – this is a family consensus.

In silence, I realized that all of Sports Nation is in dire straits.

I feel particularly bad for many wagering acquaintances – they wake up each day expecting to make a sports bet.

I once had the same affliction: Years ago, I played in a Washington, D.C., underground poker game in which a couple of players were cheating as partners, the dealer was in cahoots with another regular and I would lose virtually every week. Why did I keep going back? It was the only game in town. And, like my current-day gambling buddies, I needed the action.

Anyway, sports books and bookies are not going to curl up and close shop; they have BMWs to pay for. So while you cannot get down on Lakers-Jazz tonight – all of 2020 is gone, my friends – you can still make "futures" wagers, and even though I generally discourage sports betting, I am here to pick up our spirits and hand out a few smart, wet-your-whistle selections:

* 2021 NFL season. Take Tom Brady and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers to make the playoffs. You can get 14-to-1 on that right now; it's a bargain.

* 2024 Summer Olympics. Japanese men's gymnast Takeru Kitazono is a marvel – a stone-cold immortal lock to take the gold in the parallel bars. In fact, he's such a gifted athlete, I'd bet on Kitazono on any event he enters in the 2026 Winter Olympics.

* 2028 NBA championship. The Philadelphia 76ers. Yes, the Philadelphia 76ers. They will ask you to Trust The Process ITAL again, END ITAL and this time The Process will work.

* 2032 presidential election. Donald Trump Jr. as the Republican nominee, at 12-1, is like FREE MONEY.

And, finally, let me leave you with a three-team teaser parlay:

I am betting there will be NO horse racing, NO cash transactions and NO Starbucks anywhere in America in 2050.

When I cash that ticket, I will drive my electric car to Sizzler!

Ask the Slouch

Q. With MLB on hiatus, Cincinnati Reds pitchers Trevor Bauer and David Carpenter are trying to organize a sandlot baseball game in Arizona. Doesn't this still go against the notion of proper social distancing? (John Hadler; Portland, Ore.)

A. Bases are 90 feet apart, no?

Q. If Iona is under quarantine for the coronavirus, how can Rick Pitino bring in escorts for his basketball recruits? (Mark Nelson; Vienna, Va.)

A. With all of intercollegiate athletics shut down, somehow it seems like the perfect time for Pitino to return to coaching.

Q. If Wrestlemania 36 is finally canceled, would that be the definition of "fake news"? (Alan Klein; Potomac, Md.)

A. I think the more polite term here is "scripted news."

Q. In a world that suddenly isn't funny, are you about to become king? (Mark Cohen; Gibsonia, Pa.)

A. As a lifelong pauper, I'd be pleased enough to become prince.

Q. Is it true that Daniel Snyder and James Dolan are leading the U.S. government efforts to reduce large public gatherings at sports stadiums? (Terry Golden; Vienna, Va.)

A. Pay the man, Shirley.

You, too, can enter the $1.25 Ask The Slouch Cash Giveaway. Just email asktheslouch@aol.com and, if your question is used, you win $1.25 in cash!



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This week the NASCAR cup series heads to the world center of racing, the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, for the inaugural fourth of July version of the Brickyard 400. This is unprecedented for NASCAR considering over the course of 50 years they are usually in Daytona around this time. While this move was met with a lot of criticism from fans, there is a positive to come from this move though, as the sport will hold their first doubleheader with Indycar. This has been talked about for many years and now it has finally come to fruition. Another new facet of this weekend will be the Xfinity Series running on the road course configuration. This could very well lead to the cup series transitioning from the oval to the road course next season should everything go well when the Xfinity series does it. It will definitely be an interesting weekend.

Last week, Kevin Harvick and Denny Hamlin dominated the first-ever doubleheader at Pocono. The two drivers finished first and second in both races with Harvick taking race one and Hamlin winning race two. Both of these races came down to pit-road strategy as Harvick was able to eke out a victory by taking two tires and fuel while his teammate Aric Almirola took four. The next day Denny Hamlin pretty much had the whole field covered as he went on to claim his fourth victory of the season. Overall, the idea of two races in a weekend went over well but for the racing itself, it was hard to watch. One of the main issues I had was how the drivers didn't have to shift this week. In my opinion, that was what made this track so unique. It was an oval that had road course characteristics and it usually produced some pretty good finishes. Hopefully this will be addressed when the new car makes its debut in 2022.

One of the big stories going into this week is the announcement a couple of weeks ago that NASCAR will be moving their all-star event to Bristol Motor Speedway. Over the past couple of weeks, there has been a whirlwind of news from the Bubba Wallace story at Talladega, to the doubleheader races last week. A lot of this has put this announcement on the back burner but this is a huge story. The race will be held on Wednesday, July 15th as NASCAR continues with midweek races. This is the first time since 1986 that the race will not be run at NASCAR's home track in Charlotte back when it took place at Atlanta Motor Speedway. The format will be pretty much the same as all the winners from 2019 and 2020 will all have an automatic birth into the race while the rest of the field will run in the open event the day before. The main event will feature four stages including a 15 lap closer around one of NASCAR's most popular race tracks. I think this move was long overdue and I hope that they continue with it in the future. Don't get me wrong, there isn't anything wrong with the race at Charlotte but I think a change of pace would be welcomed. I look forward to seeing how this turns out.

As we move on to Indy this weekend, the driver I have winning is Kurt Busch. This weekend will be the 2004 Cup Series champion's 700th career start, and he's won just about every race that there is to be won except this one here at the Brickyard. This week, that is going to change. It hasn't been the most consistent season for the Vegas native, but he still sits tenth in points and right in the thick of the playoff battle. This track isn't his best as he currently has a 19.42 average finish, including a dismal 30th place finish last year. But this week, I think he gets back on track with a victory as he starts second. The veteran has flown under the radar this year, but he has definitely shown spurts where we think he is going to break-out. He also has runs where it seems like him and his team are mid-pack, but there aren't many drivers out there that have the experience he has. And a talented driver like him always finds a way to bounce back. Look for Kurt Busch to take the #1 Monster Energy Camaro to victory lane.

All stats and information used in this article are brought to you by the good folks at driveraverages.com and Racing-Reference.com, the best websites for all NASCAR stats.

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