Bill Turner
Here we are again. February. The love month.
Hugs and kisses go out to all the readers who chimed in on my Christmas column weather prediction that a significant snow was coming. I didn’t try to buffalo you with random talk about El Nina or El Nino influences, show you a picture of Old Man Winter, or give you a bunch of nonsense about how many times it has snowed since 1916 after the first Saturday in December fell on the fifth day of the month. Just a straightforward prediction made here by dusting off the old Ouija Board.
That method proved fruitful, with a delightful snow on Christmas Day followed by the deeper variety that fell on January 30-31, bringing out the sleds, scarves and shovels, not to mention my snowmobiling pictures.
Those events quickly drew more inquiries on the likelihood of more snow this winter. The answer is YES, and prompted our sports department to discuss the possibility of a local promotion for The Star, and one that is surely set to be a major tourist magnet: We’ll have our own version of Pennsylvania’s Groundhog Day with Punxsutawney Pete, except we go to our Chief’s remote mountaintop retreat where we debut our new “groundhog de jour,” known as the lovable predictor, “Cheaty Mountain Chief.”  The Chief will be all over this idea just on the souvenir booth revenue alone. Plus, Punxsutawney Pete and Cheaty Mountain Chief both have that special Groundhog Day ring to them. (Chief’s Note: “Good Lord . . .”)
With all the pictures The Chief has sent us at corporate headquarters, where the snowfall at his retreat has been measured in feet, not inches, the location is perfect. Plus, The Chief looks good in a top hat and morning suit to complete the entire setting. For our readers not familiar with men’s fashion, a morning suit, also known as morning dress, is the traditional time-honoured gentleman’s attire for formal events such as weddings and daytime affairs in the presence of the monarch.
Yes, you always learn something when you read this column.
Now, we just get him an ornamental stick to probe the groundhog out of his hole and we’re ready for live TV coverage. With all the majestic evergreen spruces at The Chief’s retreat, “Cheaty Mountain Chief” will surely see his shadow, thus six more weeks of winter and snow, making for a sure winner around those parts of the woods.
Enough said about the groundhog, so let’s waddle forward.
First, we move to the traditional sports info around the area, followed by a look at this column’s annual Super Bowl betting guide where you readers can try to predict a few of this year’s available Vegas proposition bets just for fun, and a couple that probably haven’t reached that far west quite yet.
The Roanoke Valley Sports Club brings former Major League Baseball player George Canale as its guest speaker to the club’s Monday, February 15th meeting at the Salem Civic Center. A Cave Spring and Virginia Tech graduate who still holds batting records with the Hokies, Canale had a successful career with the Milwaukee Brewers. The evening begins with a 5:45 social, followed by dinner and the program. Reservations are required and must be made no later than Friday, February 12th by 4:00 PM. For more information and to secure your spot for the always-entertaining gathering, visit the club’s website:  www.roanokevalleysportsclub.com.
The snow may be on the ground, but area high school football teams began practice Thursday, February 4th, with an abbreviated regular season scheduled to begin later this month. We’ve traditionally rung in the season talking about fans in tank tops for the usual openers in late-August, but this year’s fans will be best served getting their parka, ski jacket and stocking hat wardrobes dusted off. And, if another heavy snow comes our way, games in the “Big-11” may resemble those you see on TV from Green Bay or Buffalo.
A reminder that Salem Red Sox baseball is hopefully just around the corner, so get your sports action back on track by checking out the ticket plans available. Carolina League baseball will be just what the doctor ordered for a return to normalcy.
On to Super Bowl 55 where the Vegas sports books and our inside-Vegas advisor to The Star, Harry “The Weasel,” get us up-to-date on this year’s matchup between Kansas City and Tampa Bay. KC is a 3-point favorite, and that’s a tough one to figure with Mahomes vs. Brady at quarterback. Mahomes is masterful, but it’s hard to bet against Brady and his record. So, let’s look at this year’s proposition bets that you can follow at home without losing your shirt.
For the uninitiated, a proposition bet is making a call on if something will happen during the game. Negative odds denote the favorite (Minus-110 means you would wager $110 to win $100), while positive odds denote the underdog (Plus +100 means you would wager $100 to win $110). Here’s our list for this year of the most intriguing.
Will the coin toss be heads or tails and which team will win the toss? Very basic, all 4 choices are MINUS 105. You bet $105 to win $100.
Will there be a two-point conversion attempt by either team?   YES. +130; NO -150.
(Harry’s note: a team has gone for 2 in eight of the past 11 Super Bowls).
Will there be a missed extra-point conversion?   YES +250; NO -300.
(Harry’s note: since the NFL pushed back the distance on PATs in 2015, kickers have hit 6,875 of 7,328 extra-point attempts and 286 of 302 attempts in playoff games.)
How many songs will be played during the Super Bowl 55 Halftime Show?
OVER 8  -220; UNDER 8  +155.
How long will it take Jazmine Sullivan and Eric Church to sing the National Anthem?
OVER 1 minute, 59 seconds.   +105    UNDER 1 minute, 59 seconds    -145.
And, of course the rather more questionable odds found only at remote mountaintop sports bookies:
Will The Chief have an adult beverage before kickoff?   With several feet of snow at The Chief’s cabin, and a huge fire blazing in the fireplace, smart money rushed to YES, resulting in the bet being pulled OFF the board. (Chief’s Note: Wise Move.)
If one team leads by at least 15 points at halftime, will The Chief and Wild Bill go wandering into the woods to hunt groundhogs during the third quarter?   YES   -180;   NO.  +140  (Harry’s note: Since anyone can carry a groundhog probe in one hand and schooner in the other, smart money says this will probably be a lock).
I didn’t realize Harry knew us that well. Until next time, good luck on all your wagers and stay safe and warm during the game.
– Bill Turner