Dave’s Free Play, Wednesday 11/25/15

  • November 25, 2015

I have been a big fan of HBO’s “Real Sports with Bryant Gumbel” ever since it debuted on the network more than 20 years ago. I’ve always found the program to be highly thought provoking. While there’s little question that the show does more than just lean to the left on the hot button topics it occasionally covers, no one can argue with the intense research and preparation that goes into each piece.

The new installment features two total extremes. There’s a terrific profile of hockey broadcasting icon Mike “Doc” Emrick, who turns out to be a really likable guy who’s also phenomenal at his job. As an aside, he’s also rather obviously an animal lover, which ties in to the main piece featured in this installment.

Props to the “Real Sports” staff for deciding to air the Emrick piece as a mood lightener following what might have been the most disturbing segment I’ve ever seen on the show. The majority of the program centered on the disgraceful and undeniable process of elimination that’s taking place in Africa, where the wild elephant is literally heading toward extinction thanks to greed, and whatever it is that drives some people to wanting to kill animals just for the joy of killing them.

The program featured some very graphic scenes, so if you’re thinking of viewing, be forewarned, it’s not at all pleasant.

The piece also included some extended conversation with a gentlemen named John J Jackson III, who loves to shoot and kill animals, with elephants being at the very top of his list. Jackson, who is the founder, chairman and president of an outfit called “Conservation Force” (possibly the most oxymoronic name I’ve ever come across). Their credo reads “A Force For Wildlife Conservation, Wild Places and Our Way of Life”. The website can be viewed at conservationforce.org.

Mr. Jackson defended his “way of life” by somehow claiming that when he hunts, it’s actually a form of self-defense. He strongly denied that, in spite of incontrovertible evidence to the contrary, the elephant population is not in any kind of imminent danger. Just as a personal observation, his affection for the feel of the ivory was downright creepy and perverted. But beyond that observation, his logic was wildly convoluted and his defense of his pastime was so utterly inept it was sadly comical.

I’ll give Mr. Jackson credit for his willingness to speak his mind in a piece that he had to know going in was not going to portray him in a positive light. I think that actually took guts as this is not a stupid neanderthal with no grasp on reality.

But I’m also quite sure that Mr. Jackson probably doesn’t realize that by exposing himself in this fashion, he probably did a great disservice to those who share his views on big game hunting. Perhaps he’s simply oblivious to the phenomenal growth that’s taking place in the anti-big game hunting fraternity. As we learn more about how this “sport” survives and thrives at the expense of several now endangered species, increasing action is being taken to educate the public and in the process the numbers of those highly opposed to this activity is expanding at an amazing rate.

The piece also showed some remarkable and highly encouraging poll numbers. Not only is big game hunting now frowned upon by a whopping majority of those Americans surveyed, those numbers included a very substantial majority amongst hunters. This, of course, makes total sense. Most hunters, while enjoying the pastime, have zero desire to wipe out any species. In other words, they’re normal people who just happen to enjoy hunting. But not this form of hunting.

And let’s make this crystal clear. What Mr. Jackson and Dr. Walter Palmer and Sabrina Corgatelli and others just like them are doing is not hunting. Sorry, if you’re spending thousands of dollars to fly to a foreign country, thousands more to hire a bunch of guides to locate the prey for you and in some cases even shine a damn spotlight on the victim….you’re not a hunter. You’re just a selfish asshole who likes to kill things. That might not have been the case years ago when we weren’t educated as to the plight of these creatures. But once armed with the knowledge now widely available, if the decision is still to continue this form of murder, then the assessment holds.

To be clear, there’s far more danger to the elephants, lions and other animals from poachers who are in it simply for the money and are killing at far higher numbers. The challenge for conservationists on that count is not just daunting, it might well be impossible.

But there is at least something that can be done here to perhaps stifle what’s going on there. We can’t legislate against these individual’s rights to travel someplace where this activity is legal. In fact, I’d argue for the rights of the John Jacksons of the world to be able to continue doing this where it’s somehow considered okay, no matter how distasteful I find it. But what we can do is to ban the import of these “trophies” in any way, shape or form. You want to go to Africa and shoot whatever, Mr. Jackson? Go right ahead. But let’s make it illegal for Mr. Jackson to bring his souvenirs back to this country. My guess is that if Mr. Jackson can’t show off his “triumphs” to his buddies, the attraction won’t be as strong.

Congratulations to all at HBO who helped put this piece together. For the reporters who literally put themselves in the line of fire in one harrowing scene involving poachers, some kind of a medal is deserved along with a substantial bonus. For those of us who’d like this “sport” to cease to exist, programs like this that inform mass numbers of viewers are necessary and welcome.

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Back to actual sports. 2-1 here on Tuesday, with a Vandy/Rider split in college and narrow NBA win with the Bulls. I’m already set on one CBB game for Wednesday and there could be some NHL or NBA as goalie and lineup info arrives during the day. I’m also set on two games for the weekend college football, including one that’s a 1.5x play.

For info on how to get all my plays each day, simply email me at cokin@cox.net. All correspondence is confidential as I don’t share names or data with anyone, and there’s a pretty solid guarantee that goes with the program.

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The Tuesday free play was on a Saturday college football game. Tonight’s comp is on the ice.

BLUES  at  PENGUINS

Take: BLUES -105

I’m making this a short and sweet analysis on the game this evening between the Blues and Penguins. It’s all about the numbers for me.

I utilize what amounts to eight sets of team ratings for my NHL work. There’s an overall number and I also have a subset that’s home and away for each team. The fourth is goalie power ratings. From there, I’ve got what amounts to fast and slow numbers for each team and goalie. The fast is current form, the slow is a season-long running number.

The whole idea is to isolate underdogs that are winning most of the categories. It’s extremely rare that a dog will have the better numbers across the board.

Long story short, the Blues win several categories tonight as they take on the Penguins in Pittsburgh. Note that this is incumbent upon Jake Allen getting the start on goal for St. Louis, but as he’s already listed as confirmed at dailyfaceoff.com. The Blues are technically not underdogs here as they’re currently at -105, but that’s close enough for me in game in which my numbers make them the favorite.

Note that series history and trends of that sort mean less than nothing to me. The fact the Blues have won four of their last five visits to Pittsburgh is of no consequence, as this is just the sixth time they’ve gotten together here since 2006. So this is all based on what’s taking place now. This should be a terrific game between two quality entries, but I’ll be looking to side with the Blues to come away with the two points tonight.