Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Clean Slate

He can't see, he can't hear.


20(!!) years ago on a back field at Osseo High School, right next to the tin shack of a hockey arena that was reeciving a much needed face lift and second rink, there's a worn down baseball diamond.  The backstop is littered with uncut follage, the fence curls upward in places allowing passed balls to become free bases, the outfield is sparcely cut and has no fence allowing home runs to become very long doubles, and the pitching rubber slightly tilted upwards to remind the hurler to mind his delivery or be prepared to eat some gravel along with a chorus of heckling.

A tall, skinny sophomore who never played on the teams with button down jerseys, matching pants and stirups, or freshly polished shoes walked across the long stretch between the high school and this long forgotten place of play.  The benches were no more than a plank of warped wood on the open field, unsheltered from the errant foul tip.  But, Mr. Darby Carlson sat there waiting to begin choosing who would work their way from this blight to the concrete dugouts of the varsity field located right next to the gym exit.

"If it doesn't happen, I can hang up my glove for good"

Years of tears, disappointments, road trips, tubes of icy-hot all for a shot to make a school team which carried the weight of several recent state tournament appearances and players going off to play for college teams.  And here was the last chance as Darby had no thoughts of nepotism, no parental handshakes for their sons to walk on the team, no worries about pieces of plastic in my ears, a clean evaluation for the first time.

I wasn't the most gifted athlete, hell at best I was average.  But, good enough to wear a varsity letter my senior year because of honest coaches who saw that I had a talent of plunking batters throwing hard enough and working hard enough to pitch for this team three years prior.  A ray of hope that there are somethings you CAN work hard for and get paid off.

My naiveness of the current online poker situation is a mix of assuming too much and not knowing enough.  As I took the family last night to a local bar called J. Cousineau's, a long-time supporter of my days before responsibility, the cajun chicken sandwich and seasoned fries were unmarkable but decent bar food as the waiter certainly exceeded expectations and was very friendly and genuine. 

Surrounded by jerseys of Dino Ciccarelli, John Randle, and a flag from Bushwood Country Club signed by I'm assuming Carl Spackler right after his miraclous cinderella man shot, was a TV showing a different set of programming than the Yankees/White Sox tilt shown on the other ten sets.  TVG.com was playing as the 5th at Turf Paradise was calling the horses to the gate.  Listed below were the odds from the nine's 5/2 all the way up to the four horse's 85/1 (sired by Mr. Otis perhaps?).  OTBs are not legal in Minnesota, but holding a phone with internet capabilities for the first time, if I wanted to plunk a few dollars down on a horse that will likely fall before the announcer gets the word "OFF!" out of the microphone, I could.

Why could I wager here, but not on something with much better odds AND knowing I hold an edge?  If I'm faster, throw harder, work harder, why don't I get the spot on the team?  If I'm more knowledgable, better personality, have more drive to succeed why don't I get the job.


World doesn't work that way dumbass. 

The difference between what should be and what is, is called life.  Deal with it, or get run over.  Finally after several years of tryout disappointments, the lanky kid who walked off that field with the tattered hand-me-downs of the varisty jersey package worn three years ago, including a turtleneck that was a better fit for the arctic circle, found a place on the sophomore team and finally realized what is, is, what didn't happen you can't control so after a good cry, its time to move on.

Finally the lesson sunk in after the favorite crossed the line and my kids were asking about a summer trip to Canterbury Park, and some friends with their heads on much straighter than my own via Twitter explained the gray parts of the online poker proceedings. 

The fight for online poker in the US isn't about who did what, or "freedoms", nor is it about what is right.  Its PR, its American Idol where phone-in votes count (some more than others), its about money and globs of it, high enough for Scrooge McDuck to make a second swimming pool vault.

It's about opportunity, selling the right idea to the right person at the right time.  Just like I managed to finally sneak onto the team from years of playing behind a wall of favorites, I managed to take advantage of the situation.  Will online poker advocates do the same?

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