by Joe Fortenbaugh
October 21, 02012
“Eddie Mush was a degenerate gambler. He was the world’s biggest loser. He was “Mush” because everything he touched turned to mush.”
--A Bronx Tale (1993)
They walk among us disguised as the average sports bettor, but there’s something lurking beneath the surface of these individuals that make them anything but ordinary. A dangerously expensive cocktail that’s one part carelessness and one part bad luck. Identifying these people isn’t the challenging part. That information can be obtained through both price and proximity. It’s keeping your distance that proves to be the burden.
They go by several monikers (William H. Macy played one in the 2003 movie “The Cooler”), but the most common sobriquet is “mush.” To be a mush is to be a pariah, a leper among the community of sports bettors looking to turn a profit.
The mush is most commonly identified through two discernable traits: He either proclaims a bet a winner with time still remaining on the clock, only to watch that “sure thing” flush itself down the toilet during the waning seconds, or he piggybacks your favorite picks, turning winners into losers faster than Usain Bolt turns 100 meters into gold medals.
Every group of sports bettors has one, although the range and frequency of each mush varies from unlucky bastard to unlucky bastard. But where most see a problem, others see an opportunity. Handicapping sports is no picnic in the park and is better left to professionals with both time and access. But those with close ties to a mush can forsake both the statistics crunching and numbers chasing.
Just find out who the mush is backing and go the other way. It’s as simple as that.
We tell this age-old tale about the mush this fine Sunday morning because we’ve been experimenting with that precise handicapping style mentioned in the previous paragraph. My hometown friends and I have been chasing action since we were little. And if the last two decades have taught us anything, it’s that yes, our inner circle has, in fact, been infiltrated by a mush.
This information isn’t new. We’ve been on to Mush for the last ten years. So much so that I’ve been posting his NFL and college football plays on twitter this season. And yes, Mush has been busy mushing. He’s currently 4-15 on the season (.210), with a robust mark of 2-8 among the professional football ranks.
And while my hometown mush’s resume of ruining games is both lengthy and distinguished, I want to share two of his most infamous moments to prove the uncanny power this young man possesses.
October 20, 2007: Seven-point favorite Penn State has the ball and leads Indiana 36-24 with just under four minutes remaining in the game. My friend (let’s call him “Terrence”) has been having a rough morning, but is heavy on Penn State and is headed for a much-needed winner. Then, his phone rings.
“Looks like you can go ahead and wrap that one up,” exclaims Mush.
Within seconds, the Nittany Lions commit their first turnover of the afternoon. Less than a minute later, like something out of a bad dream, Indiana’s Kellen Lewis scampers 56 yards for a score to make the game 36-31. Penn State wins, Indiana covers.
Terrence calls Mush.
“Don’t ever fu@%*^$ call me again,” says Terrence.
May 16, 2005: In need of more action that what the Atlantic City roulette table in front of them is offering, my friends (we’ll call them “Bruce” and “Bass”), decide to fire a wager on right-hander Orlando Hernandez and the Chicago White Sox, who go off at -160 against the visiting Texas Rangers.
Texas strikes in the top of the first, making it 1-0 before an A.J. Pierzynski grand slam in the bottom half of the inning brings the score to 4-1 White Sox. Before the Chicago catcher can finish rounding the bases, Bruce gets a text message from Mush.
“Go Sox. U can put this one to bed.”
The Rangers get two in the second, three in the third and go on to win 7-6.
The roulette table goes colder than a Siberian winter.
We tell these infamous tales not to frighten, but rather, to inform. Mush can’t change who he is. Believe me, I know. But that doesn’t mean we can’t capitalize on Mush doing what Mush does best.
So after an 0-3 college football Saturday (Texas A&M, South Carolina and Michigan), I give you Mush’s two “Sunday locks.” I picked the Panthers on Friday as one of my five selections for the LVH SuperContest, so the best I can do this week is go 4-1.
MUSH’S SUNDAY SPECIAL
MINNESOTA VIKINGS (-6.5) vs. Arizona Cardinals
CAROLINA PANTHERS (+2) vs. Dallas Cowboys
Good luck. And remember, the game’s never over until it’s over.
Hit me up on Twitter: @JoeFortenbaugh