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Calves Killing Butchers - The New York Giants, And (For The Moment) Barack Obama...By Nelson Lardner

Loyal, dedicated MajorWager readers will now be familiar with the results of this year's Nevada sports bookmaking's snapshot of industry profit/loss derived from all Super Bowl wagering done within the state's borders.

Astounding many casual observers who were of the belief that a New England loss would prove an enriching result for the books, the 174 state establishments wound up coughing up some $2,600,000 after Super XLII fell 17-14, Giants. It was Nevada's first net loss on the Big Game since the Niners destroyed the Chargers 49-26 in 1995, which cost the state's books some $400,000.

The layers were their own worst enemy on the open, when they cranked out the erstwhile New Yorkers at +14 - or higher. The boys left themselves vulnerable, there, and took the hit. But the preliminary wave of value-seekers washed visions of sugarplums away, in short order, as the line gradually crawled towards +11 -- until the New England money which had waited as long as they could entered the fray, driving the final spread back towards +13.

What drove this year's red ink isn't surprising. Alas, the straight-up Giant win turned the "I want Big Blue on the money line, at any price" fanbois into prescient geniuses. It doesn't matter that taking appreciably less than +400 on a twelve-point underdog is atrocious conduct, from a percentage perspective. If you're a fanboi, you take the best 'dog price you can find (and in Vegas, the moneyline offerings were clearly inferior than what you could uncover online, especially on game weekend).

There were pros out there (without a doubt - I'm acquainted with a few of them) who embraced the Patriot money line at the price - which looked like a bargain, vis a vis the spread, until the vaunted New England offensive line proved to be at a loss when attempting to counter the Giants' clever blitzing tactics. Some of the bigger Vegas houses were counting on late Patriot moneyline action to help balance their books - but the cavalry never came over the hill in the volume needed to stem the eventual bloodletting.

So near, and yet so far . . . a non-covering Patriot straight-up win would have delighted the bookmaking community. The house would have been happy were Randy Moss' post-touchdown-reception gaucheries been the be-all and end-all of XLII. But to the Giant fan base (loyal, mobile, and blessed with considerable disposable income) belonged the eventual spoils.

For many, most years, the side/total sideshow has become secondary to the proposition buffet, which always contains a handful of nuggets worthy of full exploitation . . . and the unwashed public's willingness to overindulge in prop-action overload keeps the store open.

For our next appointment, we now abandon the Vegas arena - as Nevada is not interested in doing business which highlights the results of the voting actions of specific collective bodies.

Thus, the 2008 U. S. presidential race is off-limits, stateside. But not internationally, so long as the offshores and the exchanges continue to do brisk business.

Since the opening of the markets, Hillary Rodham Clinton was the favorite among all contenders for this year's Democratic Presidential nomination. Was . . . until this past Tuesday morning, when Illinois Senator Barack Obama made his big move, accompanied later in the day with the news that he had won the majority of the states contested on Super Tuesday, the year's single biggest primary extravaganza.

Clinton and Obama emerged neck-and-neck in terms of total delegate count in the wake of Tuesday's results, with the long-term pacesetter maintaining a slight advantage. But this week's favorite flipflop was the result of the anticipated Tuesday stalemate, in conjunction with a sophisticated read of what was to come, over the remainder of this month.

The rest of February's activity for the Dems kicks off with Saturday's Louisiana primary and Nebraska and Washington (state) caucuses . . . Sunday's Maine caucuses . .. and Tuesday's primaries in Maryland, Virginia and the District of Columbia. The Wisconsin primary and Hawaii caucuses follow, one week later.

Given that picture/schedule, those who took a lead with Obama at dog prices did themselves a very good turn. Clinton operatives acknowledge there's a tangible chance that the former First Lady and current Senator from New York may well not come out ahead in ANY of the above competitions ( . . . eh . . . Wisconsin . . . maybe!). On Super Tuesday, Clinton primarily did well in coastal industrialized areas, and in special situations such as Arkansas (site of husband Bill's prior governorship).

The February schedule affords no such inviting harbors for Ms. Clinton, who in apparent confirmation of earlier rumors of a dwindling war chest, was moved to loan $5 million of her own money to the campaign . . . a problem Mr. Obama, with his widening, deepening current base of supporters/contributors, does not currently share . . . having, in fact, raised close to $8 million - in the past two days, alone!

There is a sense of desperation for both. She waited eight years for what she knows is her best shot, though Hillary now has a marked historical threshold to overcome. Students of Democratic presidential politics should be aware that non-incumbent Dems on the top of the ticket who have passed onto the shady side of sixty years of age . . . have NEVER won. As for Obama, Mrs. O previously extracted a promise from her husband that he would make but a single run at this office . . . and 2008 is it.

Barring a verbal pratfall, the near-term appears favorable for Obama's fortunes, leading up to what's likely to be the single most critical primary day remaining: Tuesday, March 4. In addition to Rhode Island and Vermont contests, Clinton and Obama will hook up in Ohio and Texas on that date. Further Obama momentum advances may alter the equation, but right now, Texas' high Hispanic population could favor Clinton, while given Obama's pattern of relative primary success in states previously-deemed "red", Ohio may well go Obama's way.

Hillary is not without hole cards . . . not the least of which are the 842 Democratic so-called "Superdelegates", many of whom are veteran party pros, many of whom likely owe one Clinton or another for previous favors rendered. But any near-term Obama stampede may prevent that advantage from coming into play, especially if such party pros as Democratic party chairman Howard Dean have their way. Dean has stated he's eager to go to considerable lengths to avoid an unseemly convention floor fight, and would like to see the top spot on the Dem ticket settled and accounted for, no later than shortly after the Pennsylvania primary April 22.

Ex-governor Mitt Romney's formal suspension of his participation in the formal GOP race today marked a sad end of the competitive aspects of the Republican campaign for certain wise guys who were of the belief that Romney, representing some generously-endowed interests, would sweep to the nomination on the backs of radio flogging by the likes of Rush Limbaugh and Sean Hannity. Such operators evidently failed to absorb news reports regarding the 2006 midterm elections, which marked a pronounced domestic political sea change - not to mention the near-term end of any kingmaking abilities previously credited to conservative radio talk-show hosts boasting selective "news" judgment. Not taking sides -- just stating the facts . . . . you have to be aware of what time it is, to best succeed in pursuing optimal opportunities in the election marketplace.

Expect further surprises -- and try to anticipate them . . . as we're all trying to do, in any sporting endeavour.

Nelson Lardner

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