Jim O'Donnell: From Vegas overnight, former Daily Herald contributor sharpens sports gaming column
WITH LEGAL SPORTS BETTING now serving as the gateway social morphine for segments of America, the land has never been as littered with so many worthless touts.
As the late Simon "Memphis" Frank - once among the wisest of elders around Chicago horse racing - told Phil Georgeff and associate: "You don't need nobody else to tell you how to lose your money."
But for the past six years, predating the 2018 U.S. Supreme Court decision that allowed all of the aboveground chase to begin, one operation has consistently tried to add a touch of data-driven intelligence and analytical elevation to it all.
That's Vegas Stats and Information Network (vsin.com), the ever-evolving service launched in February 2017 by Chicagoans Bill Adee, Brian Musburger and "traveling uncle" Brent Musburger.
STARTING THIS WEEK, VSiN has taken its multiplatform game even higher.
Adee - a former Daily Herald acolyte who later breathed magic into the sports sections of the Sun-Times and Tribune as lead editor - has tightened and enhanced the crisp intro column offered daily at vsin.com.
The modest Waukegan native is even taking a byline for it - "The VSiN Daily - written by Bill Adee."
And access to it is free.
WHY THE SUDDEN POP-UP? After all, it's not a gambler's Groundhog's Day - is it?
"The increased promotion for VSiN's daily newsletter wasn't my idea," said Adee, who participated in the startup's sale to DraftKings two years ago.
"I always tried to stay behind the curtain in Chicago. That's pretty easy when you are surrounded by big personalities like Jay Mariotti, Rick Telander, Dave Feldman and The Bearded Irish Rover, to name a few.
"I started doing the daily morning email not long after VSiN launched. I was a little rusty because the last time I wrote that regularly was when I was working at the Daily Herald while going to college (Northwestern) in the mid-80s."
INITIALLY, ADEE TRIED TO periodically delegate the overnight task. It's put to bed and faithfully transmitted every day at 5 a.m., Central Time (3 a.m. at The Circa, its home base in Las Vegas).
"Quite frankly, the 3 a.m. deadline has helped me navigate - but not necessarily avoid - the temptations of a city that never shuts down. Which is why the promotional 'Day-in-the-Life-of-Bill' campaign that VSiN started this week isn't too far from reality."
That promotional surge includes a clever video spot centered around Adee. His showbiz mien is on the same boulevard as Paul Shaffer, the energizing band leader of "Letterman" fame.
(The ad can be viewed at vsin.com/newsletter.)
LIKE ANY GAMING SERVICE, VSiN'S "expert selectors" are subject to the same ebbs and flows as Mickey App-Potato.
But the site goes deeper. A compelling element, generated in tandem with the system electronica of DraftKings, is constantly updated "splits" regarding bets on any single event.
A magic number that has evolved in that category regarding NFL games is "80." When 80 percent or more of the handle - or "split" - hangs on one team in the final hour before kickoff, regardless of the movement of the point spread, it's a shrewd time to go the other way.
A bold speculator will wind up backing some scary contrarian choices, sort of like Argentina over Great Britain in The Falklands. But more often than not, the pixie dust of the NFL will take hold and produce a cashable winner.
AS A CONSUMMATE JOURNALIST, Adee was never known as a great gambler. Although he was in attendance back on a memorable June afternoon in 2002. That was when longtime running mate Rich Roeper - the film critic - walked away with more than $25,000 after Edgar Prado and the nondescript Sarava (70-1) wasted bad-stepping War Emblem and all others in the Belmont Stakes.
(The win price was $142.50 and the gimmicks had to be tracked by NASA. To this day, Roeper maintains a race photo autographed by Prado somewhere around his most charmed thinkspace.)
NOW ADEE, THE PLATINUM-GOLD SPORTS MEDIA EXEC, is back on the front line again as a daily columnist.
"The email is free and includes picks and other betting insights from our staff," he said. "But I also try to give people a taste of the Las Vegas scene. Our studio, at The Circa, is right in the middle of downtown, so there's plenty of material. The email is a great way to become familiar with VSiN and see if a paid subscription makes sense."
Sign up is at www.vsin.com/newsletter.
It's a terrific morning adjunct to the freshened fiefdom-first approach of the Daily Herald Sports.
With all of the suggestions of vicarious social morphine needed by those ramblin', gamblin' segments of new-mill America.
• Jim O'Donnell's Sports and Media column appears each week on Sunday and Thursday. Reach him at email@example.com. All communications may be considered for publication.