On Friday morning, Squinty and I headed up 95 North en route to Atlantic City for some gambling and to watch the Atlantic 10 tournament. Since Squinty had amazingly never eaten at a Waffle House before, we decided that we would have to stop off at one for some brunch. One thing we noticed was that when you reach Northern Maryland, there are Waffle Houses at every exit. We got off at Exit 100 in the town of Rising Sun (According to Squinty, this is a big town for KKK activity), mostly because I drive past there every time I’m visiting my parents, and Mrs. Cutter never wants to stop. Because it quite possibly could be the nation’s greatest restaurant chain, we ate some good food, received quick service, and the meal didn’t cost a lot of money. I think my waffle, eggs, toast, and bacon (I only eat bacon when I’m on vacation) cost about $9.
Getting back on the road, we went over the real Delaware Memorial Bridge (as opposed to the Tydings bridge) and entered the great state of New Jersey. We passed a few sports clothing and memorablia stores, and decided that we needed to stop at one of them. Much like the Action Figure Super Store I went to on my wedding day, the idea of stopping at the store was better than the actual experience. I did purchase a pair of green tye died soccer socks, which I plan to break out for the upcoming kickball service.
It wasn’t much longer until we arrived in Absecon where we found our motel – The Crystal Inn. I found the Crystal Inn through Hotels.com. It was cheap and got decent reviews, and since I figured we wouldn’t be spending that much time there, it was worth trying out. My first impression was not stellar as the lobby didn’t smell too great, and we arrived at 2:15, but were told that we could not check in until 3. I don’t think I’ve ever had that happen before. We decided to just get back in the car and drive the rest of the way to Atlantic City. Arriving at the Trump Plaza garage (Good deal for only $5), I managed to find the best parking spot ever. Right by the door on the casino level. It was such a good spot, I considered never moving the car.
We walked around trying to find some good tables. For whatever reason, Trump Plaza only had one $10 blackjack table open, and that was understandably packed. Considering I’m not a huge gambler, and my luck at the game has been so poor, I don’t like playing at anything more than a $10 table. We moved on to Bally’s Wild West, where some tables were available. I sat down next to a guy in a Dayton T-shirt, obviously also in town to watch the Atlantic 10 tournament. We discussed basketball for awhile, and while the rest of the table was losing, I was doing decently. Eventually, everyone besides Dayton guy and myself had left and we both went on a pretty good run. Unfortunately, my momentum was killed by a shuffle. After the shuffle, the table filled back up, and my momentum was gone. I went on a bad losing streak, and decided I had had enough for one day.
Meanwhile, Squinty was apparently finding every loose slot in town, and was doing well at craps too. So at least one of us was winning money.
Wanting to take a break, we ventured to the boardwalk. We passed by the usual stores selling T-shirts (sadly, no $1 Hanson T-shirts) and fudge. At the Ripley’s Believe it or Not museum, Squinty got a fortune from the Zoltar machine. Hopefully, this is more accurate than the fortune teller who told him he’d be married by 35. I don’t forsee that one coming true. I considered buying one of several large brass statues that one store was selling, but I eventually decided that Mrs. Cutter would not appreciate having it in our house.
Since Squinty failed to wear a coat appropriate for the cold weather, we didn’t stay outside long. We headed back inside and somehow even discovered a great deal inside of a casino. At Bally’s Wild West Casino, they have a little bar that serves large glasses of Coors Light for only $3 along with all the pretzels and trail mix that we cared to eat. We passed the time by making minor bets on the American vs. Holy Cross basketball game on TV, lamenting the fact that if we stayed in town, we could have gone. Squinty was unfortunately unable to answer my trivia question of “What is Stafford Cassell’s nickname?” If anyone (besides you, Squinty) can answer this in the comments, you will receive a special shout out in the next blog.
It was then time to head over to watch the Temple Owls take on the Xavier Musketeers in Boardwalk Hall. Before this game, Temple had a perfect 4-0 record against X in the Atlantic 10 tournament, which couldn’t have sat well with the Musketeers, since they’ve been the A10’s premier team this decade. And while Xavier had been the better team in the regular season, they already knew they had had a spot in the NCAA tournament locked up. Temple would almost definitely have to win the A10 tournament for an NCAA berth, so they had much more to play for.
We had gotten our tickets through Pepsi’s 2-for-1 deal. Of course once TicketMaster got their cut (The biggest scam in the country) the tickets were almost back up to full price. And we found that with half price tickets, they seat you pretty far to the side of the court. Once we got used to the angle, it wasn’t too bad though. Our section did come with a drunk old guy who liked shouting things. Those are always fun to have around.
The Atlantic 10 tournament has never been a historically good draw, but the crowd was somewhat impressive, especially considering Boardwalk Hall’s immense size. The majority of the fans were cheering for Temple, as its only an hour and a half drive, and it appeared that there was a large student presence. But considering that Xavier is located in Ohio, they were pretty well represented.
The first half was tightly played, and at halftime, there was a performance by an African dance team who did some cool jumps, flips, and limboed under a low bar. Not bad as far as halftime entertainment goes. In the second half, the game remained close, until finally, Temple’s star player Dionte Christmas – who had been in a big scoring slump – caught fire and made some big shots to give Temple the win. Seated near the Xavier band, I was able to shout some things at them such as “0 and 5!” and made fun of them for playing the theme song from Rocky when playing a Philadelphia based team. You NEVER should play “Gonna Fly Now” or “Eye of the Tiger” against a Philly team. It’s almost a guaranteed loss. The only exception I can think of is if your mascot is a tiger. Then, Eye of the Tiger is acceptable.
Squinty wanted to watch the end of the Maryland game on TV, so we headed next door to the Trump Plaza’s sports bar. And while the game was not on, some of the people in the bar were more entertaining than any game could be. The Villanova vs. Louisville game was being shown, and this prompted one guy to shout “Louisville sucks!” repeatedly at another guy who was wearing a Louisville hat. I thought that they might fight each other, but they were able to drunkenly settle their differences without violence. I actually thought they might kiss at one point, but instead, they just went their separate ways.
At that point, the DJ started playing some music. When he played Steve Wonder’s “Superstitious”, we noticed that a man – possibly homeless, almost definitely on drugs – was enjoying the song. He was enjoying it so much that he began to dance quite enthusiastically in his seat. My biggest regret of the weekend is that I didn’t capture the moment on camera.
We headed back inside Boardwalk Hall to watch the second game of the tournament: Dayton vs. Duquesne. Unfortunately, there were signs up saying “No Readmission.” While I can see them not wanting fans from the first game to just pass their tickets off to fans for the second, its also a bit unrealistic to think that people wouldn’t need to step outside for air or a cigarette at some point during a basketball doubleheader. Fortunately, I was able to plead my case with the usher who let us back in.
The second game was pretty good as well, and at halftime they had frisbee catching dogs! The game saw Duquesne pull off a big upset of Dayton, setting up a Temple vs. Duquesne final. The sound you heard was bubble teams across the nation cringing, since both Xavier and Dayton were locks for the NCAA tournament, and now the A10 was going to get a third representative.
After the game, we stopped at Wawa to get some subs, and finally check into our hotel. For a cheap motel, it was quite nice. The walls were a bit thin, as we could hear the people next door talking, and the room was very hot, but that was more due to Squinty being cold and turning up the heat. I had to turn the heat off in the middle of the night when I woke up sweating. The room also had a slight snoring problem, but that was also more due to Squinty.
We got up and left the room a little after 9, expecting to get a complimentary breakfast in the office. When we arrived, they told us that breakfast stopped at 10. We were slightly confused until we returned to our room and found that the clocks had never been adjusted for daylight savings time, and were an hour behind.
We then had to make a decision: Stay and watch the A10 championship game or head home. The A10 game was at 6, but that would require us to kill the whole day, and then drive home after the game. Since neither of us are huge gamblers (and I was already down), we decided to just eat, gamble a bit more, and then head home. Somehow, my luck at blackjack went even worse than before. Part of that was my own fault: I sat at a table with a small lady constantly screaming something in a foreign language which is never a promising sign. After I lost my first four hands (three of them by one card), I knew this was not the place for me, and tried playing some craps instead. I made a small rally at first, but then hit a dry spell. I realized that I was not destined to win, so we headed home.
I passed up the Atlantic City Expressway, and instead took the more scenic route 322. This allowed us to stop at another Wawa and pass by some of my favorite landmarks from my childhood trips to the Jersey shore: Zeus Artillery and Story Book Land! Once the thrill of passing these landmarks wore off, the heavier traffic volume on 322 made me think that I might have chosen poorly. We managed to kill some time by having our own “Who’s Now?” tournament, similar to what ESPN did a couple of years ago. I’m proud to announce that the winner was Yaf! LOL indeed.
After a rainy and traffic filled second half of the journey, we finally arrived home. I later tuned in to watch Temple prevail over Duquesne to capture their second straight A10 championship and earn another trip to the NCAA tournament. So in terms of gambling, the weekend was a bust. In terms of everything else, it was a rousing success.