Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Vegas, Baby

My wife and I went on our semi-annual trip to Las Vegas last week. It wound up being a great sports week, much of it football related. I'll pass on the football stuff here.

On Thursday we originally had reservations at Nine, which is my favorite restaurant on the planet (the steak is melt-in-your-mouth delicious). After pestering my wife endlessly about this snaffoo, she agreed to cancel a reservation at a different restaurant on Weds, and moved the Nine reservations to that day to be free to spend the draft in the Wynn's (where we were staying) sports book.

We wound up looking around for other places to go, and saw Lagasse's Stadium actually residing right next door. I called to ask what they were doing for the draft, and they said they were going to have a bunch of ex-NFL players there for a panel discussion prior to the draft, and then watch the draft on the big screen. For those that have never seen it, the main seating area looks like this. We took a reservation, and wound up on one of those couches, which surprised us. The only "hook" was a minimum of $100 spent on food and drink. Between the two of us, over a four or five hour period, that would be no problem, even with me on a diet.

The couches were plush and we arrived at 3:30 to hang before the draft started at 4:30 (PT remember, not EST). The NFL players were a little disappointing. Seth Joyner was the "big name" and he didn't get there till 4:00. AJ Feely and Jerry Porter were the only other two I knew. Melanie and I wound up enjoying each other's company and watching the Pens game on another TV (there is one at every table outside the main seating area) more than listening to what those guys had to say.

Watching the draft in this setting was perfect. You can see there's the big screen in the center, but also a bunch of other screens along the side. I had them stick the Pens game on one of them, so I could listen to what was happening during the draft, while watching the action in the Pens game. Talk about a perfect way to spend an evening. Around pick #20, Chris "Jesus" Ferguson took the booth behind us. I was tempted to say hi, but I hate bothering people like that as I imagine many of them hate random people they don't know saying hi just to say hi.

The experience had a major damper put on it right as the Pats were on the clock and I was hoping the Ravens might move up a spot to get Dez Bryant. Suddenly, they switch the main board over to the Lakers game, which also switched the sound over. So I could see what was happening, but this isn't really satisfactory, especially since it's not on a big screen that's easy to see. This, as I'm sure you can imagine, infuriated more than just me. I talked to a manager, who said they can't do anything about it cause the Palazzo sports book runs the tv and has the final say. To appease us, the mgr told us we wouldn't have to spend the $100 limit (thanks...I'd already spent $97 of it), and took us to a private viewing room to watch the rest of the draft. A moderate solution and a damper on an otherwise pretty awesome experience. Still, certainly beat watching it on my couch at home, even though that would have been $97 cheaper.

On Saturday we had to fly home at 7:30 AM, which meant getting up at 4:30 AM. I am a night owl, and I play poker, so clearly the correct decision was simply to stay up and play all night. After hopping a few tables, around 3 AM I landed on a NL $1/$3 table with an extremely large guy that looked like he could play linebacker half way across the table from me. The guy on my right - seeing me decked out in my Joe Flacco jersey and fitted Ravens cap - asked who we got in the draft. I told him Kindle and Cody and some TE from Oregon, and he says "Dickson? Oh you'll love him!" Turns out the guy's from Oregon. After a few minutes of chatter, the big LB-lookin' dude says "So how long you lived in Baltimore?"

I told him it wasn't me, but most of my family lived or lives there, and told him where my dad went to high school and where my uncle currently lives. He said he grew up on the south-east side of the city. So then the conversation proceeds:

Me: "So, you follow the Ravens?"

Him: "Yeah, you could say that."

"Cause you look like you might play for them."

"You know all the players?"

"... I mean...I know the names. I don't know all the faces that go with them."

"You ever heard of [x]?"

"Yeah... Wait, is that you?"

"No no, but I'm his cousin. Lived with him, just recently moved out here though."

I won't say who the player is cause I didn't tell him I'd be sharing the conversation specifics at all, but the player is a pass rusher (LB or DE) with the Ravens. I asked him something that may not really be PC, but has really been burning a hole in my brain for years.

"So, the Ravens get Kindle with their first pick, which a lot of people are pretty excited about cause he's such a good prospect. I'm curious if your cousin - and players in general in those spots - get excited about those picks though, or if they don't like them. Cause while it seems to be a great pick, that could be his job."

He said that's something that's always in the back of the family's mind, but they don't really talk about it with the player. He doesn't really know what his cousin's reaction is specifically...when he talks to him, he just asks how things are going and lets him say something if he wants to and not if he doesn't. I think that answered the question as much as could be expected.

For my final hour and a half we chatted here and there about Ravens football, and I told him good luck to his cousin as I left, which he said he'd relay to him. Not that I expect it to happen, but it was cool to get to chat with someone with some inside scoop on things.

All in all a great sports/football week, considering we weren't going out there to do anything sports related specifically.


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