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Oct 08, 2004

THE STRAIGHT SCOOP

By: JOHN PIESEN


Before I get to the meat and potatoes of this week in sports I want to take a moment to
 toot my own horn by announcing my second my National Pick 4 in as many months. This
 one with a $359.50 payoff.
Don"t miss out on a minute of these outstanding opportunities to win... enroll here today.Listen straight up! (Not to be confused with Listen Up, the worst program in the history of
 television, which incredibly is still on the air after three weeks. What a trifecta for CBS!
 Janet Jackson, Dan Rather and Jason Alexander).What really bothers me are college football coaches. Sometimes it makes me not understand
 why colleges pay their football and basketball coaches 10 times what they pay their professors.A case in point:Rutgers football coach Greg Schiano!In case you missed it, Rutgers had a 31-27 lead at Syracuse last Saturday with four
 minutes left, and had the ball on the Syracuse 21. First and 10. And somehow managed
to lose, 41-31!So what happened? Rutgers missed a field goal. Syracuse matriculated the ball downfield
 in 30 seconds and scored. 34-31. Rutgers, thanks mostly to a "holding" call that wiped
 out a long gainer, now was backed up against its goal line. Fourth and 34 from its five with
 a minute and change to play.At this point, coach Schiano really had only one option. He had to take a safety, then try an
 onsides kick, and hope to recover. Of course, the idea never entered the coach"s mind
(nor those of the announcers). A fourth-down prayer naturally went incomplete.At this point, Syracuse could have taken a knee twice, and the game would be over. But
 the Syracuse coach, risking a fumble, scored...no doubt to cover the spread. Can"t blame
 the coach. More coaches than you can count have been canned by angry alumni for
not covering.Oh, yes. Rutgers is now 3-33 straight-up in the Big East since joining the conference in
1999. Why am I not surprised?Speaking of television, did you know (or did you care) that Fox gave us Cubs-Braves last
Saturday instead of Dodgers-Giants and/or Angels-A"s?As you know, Cubs-Braves was absolutely meaningless, while the two West Coast games
 were deciding pennant races. And the thousands who purchase Direct TV were out of luck
 because Fox has a monopoly on Saturday afternoon.Of course, the irony is that Fox is using the Finley walkoff home run to promo its post-season.What a joke!Last Saturday also produced a joke on the racing front.As you probably know, about a dozen east coast tracks are not taking the NYRA signal
these days due to a dispute over money. The situation is so bad that, at a track like
Suffolk Downs, there are more mutuel clerks than customers on the grounds.This idiocy reached its boiling spoint last Saturday.The NTRA had spent big bucks promoting its Pick Four, and three of the four races used
were at Belmont -- all Grade Ones: the Gold Cup, Turf Classic and Vosburgh.Unfortunately, bettors at those dozen eastern tracks were frozen out of the Pick Four. One heavy
 bettor at The Meadowlands wanted to play the Pick Four so badly that he jumped in his car
at 2:00, drove 40 minutes to Yonkers to get down, and then drove the 40 minutes back to The Big M to watch the races on ESPN.P.S.: He needn"t have bothered. He lost.Oh, yes. If the HB was on his game, he would have dialed John Piesen"s hot line for Piesen"s
 Pick Four plays. Piesen nailed the $360 gimmick on a $108 investment. Thank you very much.It also pays to read Piesen"s twice-weekly columns in this space.Last Tuesday, Piesen wrote that the Houston Astros would win out. Sure enough. The Astros
 went 6-0, and won the wild card.Back to CBS for a moment.On Sunday, CBS gave New Yorkers a doubleheader. Pats-Bills at 1 o"clock, Jets-Dolphins
at 4:15.Unfortunanetly, with the Pats winning by seven late, and the Bills driving for the tying TD, CBS
 went to five minutes of commercials, and then switched to Jets-Dolphins for the kickoff.Naturally, on the next play after CBS blacked out the game, the Pats scooped up a Bledsoe
 fumble and ran it in.Has CBS no shame?Back to racing...At least one Las Vegas hotel (Bally"s) has posted a future book on the 2005 Kentucky Derby.
 I would suggest the following three plays: Afleet Alex at 60-1. Bellamy Road at 125-1. Rockport Harbor
 at 200-1.Afleet Alex goes Saturday in the Champagne at Belmont. Bellamy Road goes the same day in
the Lane"s End at Keeneland. Both will be favored.Incidentally, owner Steinbrenner already has fired his jockey, Abel Castellano Jr., who won the
 Cradle Stakes at River Downs on the Concerto colt. Ramon Dominguez rides the colt Saturday.If Bellamy Road wins the Lane"s End, he"ll be no more than 4-1 in the Breeders" Cup Juvenile.Speaking of the Breeders" Cup, it pays to note that the posts 10, 11 and 12 went 2-for-102 on
 the turf at the Lone Star spring meet. And both those winners came out of post 10. Posts 11
 and 12 were 0-for-60!Funny Cide, off his Gold Cup victory, is going to the Breeders" Cup Classic. It"s great to see
 trainer Tagg taking a shot, but I"d love to book all the money that will be bet on FC that day.Back to the Gold Cup for a minute. Was it really necessary for track announcer Durkin to say
that Funny Cide was "stopping" at the three-eighths pole?Back to baseball...Santana obviously is the best young lefty in the game, but as I"ve been telling you for months,
 the Pirates" Perez isn"t far behind. But I would like to see both pitchers go nine once in a while.COMINGS AND GOINGS...Sad to see that Shane Sellers is announcing his retirement. Sellers, a class act and a great rider,
told DRF that he is doing so because he can"t get disability insurance. "I don"t want to be the next
 Gary Birzer," says Shane, referring to the rider who lies paralyzed following a spill back in July at
 Mountaineer. Sellers, 38, should have another 10 years left.Glad to see that Jose Amy, now 51, has been reinstated in New York aftera 24-year ban. Amy was
 ruled off in 1980 after admitting his involvement in fixed races in New York in the "70s. I"m not
going to sit here and defend Amy"s actions back then, but anyone with half a brain knows that Amy
took the fall for others who got off scot-free.There is one common thread connecting Sellers and Amy. They are the two best softball players
(third base) among the jockeys, past or present. I can tell you this from first-hand experience. Both
 made great plays behind the bag to throw me out. Of course, I was never Ichiro getting down the line.



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