Wild Bill’s Sports Roundup!

Bill Turner

Here we are in February. The love month.

Do you know where your Valentines are?

Though no one has pinpointed the exact origin of the holiday, one good place to start is ancient Rome, where men hit on women by, well, hitting them.

Around February 14, the Romans celebrated the feast of Lupercalia. The men sacrificed a goat and a dog, then whipped the local women with the hides. These Roman romantics were both drunk and naked, yet the women would actually line up to be hit, thinking it would make them loved and fertile. The fete also included a matchmaking lottery with men drawing names of women from a jar. Reportedly, the couples would be….um….coupled up for the duration of the festival. Don’t blame me – it’s just a little everyday Roman history.

Yes, you always learn something when you read this column.

The ancient Romans may also be responsible for the name of our day of love. Emperor Claudius II executed 2 men—both named Valentine—on Feb. 14 of different years in the 3rd century AD–thus, St. Valentine’s Day.

But, now it’s all gone commercial by causing guys to break the bank on candy, flowers, dinners and jewelry for their beloveds; this year’s sales are expected to total $18.6 billion. A few may still spend the day the way the early Romans did. But, we won’t go there.

Closer to home, The Chief’s “State of The Star” address on January 12 went off with extensive heraldry in the Regency Room of Hotel Roanoke. The keynote portion was a look back at the last 10 years of The Star, along with reminiscing the great moments of that decade.

My portion from the sports department included The Chief and I taking turns riding shotgun with NASCAR driver Greg Biffle at Bristol Motor Speedway, having a burger named after me at Macados, my lunch at The Greenbrier with Tom Watson and Loudmouth Golf becoming the official sportswear of the Wild Bill Column nearly 5 years ago that set the stage for what is now one of the most recognized fashion statements in the history of local sports.

Next up are the ongoing negotiations with a Chicago Cubs executive to have me lead the Wrigley Field crowd in the 7th inning stretch “Take Me Out to the Ballgame.” I’ve been assured of tickets and access to the press box; just have to bone up on my singing talent to hopefully close the deal in the Windy City. Stay tuned.

On to milestones in local sports, where we begin with Northside head basketball coach Billy Pope winning his 500th career game in January, all at Northside High School. Great job by a coach who has done things right.

Also, in a tradition started several years ago, we honor an up and coming player who scored a memorable basket on January 20th. This month’s winner is Tinley Gruse, who drove to the right baseline and netted a picture-perfect jumper from about 5 feet. The rub here—-it was Tinley’s first career game, which is not bad since she’s only 5 years old. We wish Tinley many more hardwood highlights down the road.

We move to Super Bowl 52, where once again we talked with our Vegas connection, Harry “The Weasel,” to find out the most unusual proposition bets for the Patriots-Eagles matchup won by Philly. With over 900 on the board, here’s the ones that drew the most juice. We’ll start with halftime performer Justin Timberlake and his first appearance since Janet Jackson’s wardrobe malfunction 14 years ago. Vegas odds if that incident would be brought up was +500 (bet $100 to win $500 if it’s mentioned). Also, you could bet on Timberlake’s shoe color, with white being the favorite and yellow paying a hefty +2000. Justin wearing a hat? yes: +350; no: -600. He wore white shoes and no hat.

How long will it take Pink to sing the National Anthem? Over 2 minutes? -150; less than 2 minutes? +110. Will she mess up a single word? Yes:+300 ; No: -500. And, her hair color? blonde went at 5-4, pink 7-4, blue, black, brown or green 5-1. Although Harry doesn’t typically give tips, he said the smart money will go for blonde, perfect rendition and under 2 minutes. He was right on all, with Pink closing the last note at 1:53, being blonde and not missing a word.

Finally to the mail bag where one reader asked about my 10-year performance bonus at The Star.

Dear Wild Bill: Heard you got an all expenses paid trip to Hawaii if you lasted 10 years at the paper. Did it pan out for paradise? (Fannie/Roanoke)

Well, Fannie, not exactly. I asked for a trip to the place known for pineapples and macadamia nuts. The Chief has given the thumbs-up. He’s taking me to Kroger.

Until next time, if you need a brochure on Maui, it’s all yours.