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My Weekend At The Final Four

Well, I couldn’t beat the Rone Curse. While I’m sure many people were thinking I’d be dead in a ditch in San Antonio or forced to walk back to New York, I am still alive and well. Then again, “well” is not totally accurate because I still have this cough, a bladder problem, allergies, acid reflux, and more. But anyway, I’m well in the sense that Dave and I are still up 29 units together through Tuesday, and our gambling run doesn’t seem to be over just yet. Even on Monday when Michigan lost the national championship, we still finished 4-3 and up a unit because of success in baseball. So as I did for Vegas, I decided to recap my weekend in San Antonio for the Final Four.

Friday
The trip got off to a rough start. I was flying Delta from JFK, so expected to be in Terminal 4. I flew out of there for Vegas last week, and also to D.C. for the A10 Tournament a few weeks prior. Well, turns out I was wrong. Instead, I was at Terminal 2. There’s no McDonald’s at Terminal 2. As we know, I love myself some McDonald’s breakfast, and I was stuck with Wendy’s. I tried to order a BEC on a biscuit…..no biscuits. I was stuck with artisan bread. The sandwich stunk out loud.

To make matters worse, I pulled a muscle in my back simply by sitting down at my terminal, but that’s not all. Now, people who have been following along these past few weeks now that I’ve been battling one heck of a cough. Can’t shake this damn thing. Need to actually get it checked out. Whenever I cough, I cover my mouth. I’m a germaphobe so I treat others as I’d like to be treated. Anyone I’ve been traveling with these past couples weeks can attest that I almost always do. However, as I was eating my garbage breakfast sandwich, a piece of that artisan bread went down the wrong pipe so I coughed a few times, as one does when they’re borderline choking. I didn’t cover my mouth because it wasn’t really a sickly cough, it was a clearing my throat cough. Big difference. And it happened quick. When you’re choking, you don’t think about covering your mouth. The man across from me was with his wife and 4 young kids and said “Can you please cover your mouth when you cough?”. Talk about embarrassing. What he should’ve said is “Are you alright?” since I could’ve choked and died in front of his kids’ eyes. That would’ve been much worse for them than me coughing 20 feet away.

Moving on, my flight to Atlanta was pleasant because I had an aisle and exit row. I had a layover at the Atlanta airport and got a Big Mac for lunch. (Sidenote: Relay for Life lady came around with a bucket at terminal asking for cancer donations, and I gave $2. Most people ignored her. There was no way I was going to donate and not put it in this blog).

Now, here was the highlight of my trip. I was supposed to have a window seat from Atlanta to San Antonio. With my bladder, that would’ve been a disaster on an over two hour flight. I boarded the plane, got to my row, and there was a man in the window seat. I looked at him, didn’t say anything, and just took the aisle seat. I peed three times just to take advantage of it (and because I had to actually go).

Friday night was pretty uneventful. I arrived at our Holiday Inn (it wasn’t Dave’s favorite hotel), and everyone was tired from a long day. I had my own room which was cool. I had the option between one king bed or two queen beds. I went with two queen beds. Why? I wanted a “lay down” bed that I could chill in with my street clothes on during day. Then I had a “sleep in” bed which was only for nighttime in my pajamas. Didn’t want to sleep in my own filth. Pretty genius. I ordered some room service (chicken strips and quesadillas) and then watched the Yankee game and Impractical Jokers (great show, I disregard the haters) before bed.

Saturday
On Saturday, Team Portnoy (me, Dave, Frankie) headed out for some pizza reviews. I was Dave’s navigator, and I killed it.

First was Big Lou’s. The pizza was ginormous. And it was not very good. Dave gave it a 4.8, which was a fair rating. After it came out, Big Lou himself called Frankie and said “How could you do this to me? I have four daughters to feed, and you’re trashing my business!” Frankie explained that this review showing off the huge pizza will only help business, and talked Big Lou off the edge.

Next up was Julian’s. It was actually very good. Before the review, I took a quick trip to CVS to buy some Banana Boat Aloe Vera. My skin was peeling like a god damn banana because of my sunburn. The review was very funny, but the owners were not happy that there was pizza sauce all over their sidewalk. A worker walked out with a phone and said their manager would like to speak with us. I grabbed the phone and tried to explain the situation but unsurprisingly, I stumbled and didn’t help the situation at all. Frankie grabbed the phone and cleaned up my mess.

Dave was fed up with the Holiday Inn so a bunch of people switched hotels to the Westin. Frankie, Brett, and I remained at the Holiday Inn. I actually didn’t mind the hotel at all. It turns out that the hotel they switched to was the Loyola team hotel. I thought Dave was going to strangle the life out of Brett, but the hotel was very nice so he dealt with it. We tried to get a glimpse of Sister Jean as she rolled by but she was too low to the ground (because of the whole wheelchair thing) and we were behind the crowd. We tried to give her a quick “boo”. If I end up going to Hell, I will look back at the time that I booed a 98-year-old nun the day before Easter and think “fair enough.”

We all hung out by the river for a bit, but then it was gametime. Me, Dave, and Frankie walked over to the arena with one goal in mind: taking down Sister Jean. I had my Team Portnoy jumpsuit on and everything.

It was a rough first half. Michigan got out to an early lead, but Loyola stormed back. We trailed by 7 at half. Early in the second half, Loyola maintained a consistent 6-8 lead, but then Michigan came storming back. We ended up winning easily, and even covered. Sister Jean couldn’t bare it anymore, and rolled out early.

Combine that with some baseball wins, and we finished the day 6-1. Dave took his boys out for a nice dinner to celebrate the victories.

After a great dinner, we went to some bars around the riverwalk. We ended up at Coyote Ugly. We were sitting outside and had already bought drinks. I needed to go inside and pee. The bouncer wouldn’t let me in and said “This isn’t a rest stop buddy.” He’s lucky I didn’t whip out my speed dial and get Dr. Barry Shepard on his ass. Ultimately, I paid a $5 cover just to go inside and pee.

Sunday
The plan was for Dave to take the day off gambling, while me, Frankie, Big Cat, PFT, and Hank would go to Chaps for Easter. Dave had zero interest in making the trip. But he couldn’t help himself from gambling, and once the bets were in, he couldn’t leave my side, so off to Chaps’ he went.

We had a miraculous cover in the Bruins game to get the over with 4 seconds left. At Chaps house, all we did was sit on the couches and watch baseball. Probably pretty rude in hindsight. The day was an absolute gambling grind. Started off real ugly, but improved as the day went on. As for Chaps’ house, it was a wonderful time. We had some great food and great company. If you told me last Easter that I’d be spending my next Easter at Chaps’, I would have simply not believed you.

We left to head back to the hotel and sweat some more games. (I got an email from my theology professor that I got an 88 on my midterm on the ride back. Score!). Everyone else was busy, so Dave and I sat outside our hotel bar on the riverwalk and just watched various gamecasts on our phones for like 3 hours. The Cavs covered by half a point, the Nationals won and the over hit on a homer from fellow Team Portnoy member Bryce Harper, and things were falling our way. A ladybug even landed on my leg.

Frankie rejoined us and we headed out to this area called The Pearl for drinks at this pretty nice bar. On the way there, our cab driver tried to kill us.

At that point, we were sweating the Denver-Milwaukee game. Dave had Denver and the over. We won both halftime bets (half a unit each). Later, it was 111-108 Bucks with 3 seconds left. It looked like we were losing both. We were following on Gamecast and the clock hit 0. We put our phones away and that was that. Well, there must have been a glitch. We looked at our phones a few minutes later as we were trying to get an Uber, and it said 111-111. Jamal Murray apparently got fouled and hit 3 free throws to force overtime, which gave us the over. Denver didn’t cover but we still finished up in the game and for the day. It was our toughest day yet. Just an absolute grind all day, but we managed to pull it out.

From there, it was off to a bar back at the riverwalk. It was filled with almost exclusively Villanova fans. Bad juju, but it was still a good time, despite this comment.

Later, me and Frankie ended up waiting 45 minutes on line for Whataburger with……… Providence coach Ed Cooley. Just by himself waiting for Whataburger. Didn’t even cut the line. Good guy.

But the biggest celebrity sighting of the weekend came back at our hotel. I was in the lobby at the front desk because I forgot my room key in my room for the second time that weekend (still alarmingly stupid), and out of the corner my eye, I saw a huge cowboy hat. Now, we were in Texas, so it could’ve been anyone, but deep down I knew who it was. I instinctively yelled out “Blackjack!” and sure enough, there he was.

Monday
It was game day. Sister Jean was defeated. The Rone Curse was (hopefully) next.

After recording the Rundown on a nice boat ride, we fueled up at a BBQ place near the Sirius station we were doing radio at. The place came at Chaps’ recommendation. It ended up being basically a food truck next to a gas station underneath a highway. Dave looked like he was ready to kill Chaps. Fortunately, the food was delicious, and it ended up being a great recommendation.

During the radio show at Sirius, I was standing up doing social and got a TERRIBLE charlie horse. Right in my heel. I get them all the time. Need to eat more bananas. As I bent down to tend to it, I pulled a muscle in my chest. It was a disaster. Everyone was laughing at me.

Back at the hotel, I had changed into my jumpsuit and was ready to go. We switched from an inside table to an outdoor table. I grabbed the basket of bread and olive oil and transferred it to our new table (team player), and on the walk, a pigeon must have relieved itself on me. A guy came up to me and said “Hey buddy, a bird shit on your back. Let me help clean it off.” I thought he was joking. He was not.

When Dave realized, he said I had to keep it on for good luck. Dan even tried to change his bets from Villanova to Michigan. We were convinced a higher power was at play here.

Well, it ended up not mattering. Villanova was just too damn good. Michigan led 21-14 at one point, and I actually thought it was going to happen, but then Donte DiVincenzo happened. When he checked into the game for the first time, I turned to Dave and said “this guy worries me.” He said, “me too.” 31 points later, we were proven very correct.

Chalk it up to DiVincenzo. Chalk it up the Rone Curse. Chalk it up to whatever you want. Villanova was just a million times better. The Rone Curse lives on. But the weird thing is, it didn’t really break me and Dave’s luck. Yes, we lost Michigan +7, but we still finished the day plus money because of baseball. So I’m not a great good luck charm for Dave’s teams, but the gambling run wasn’t over just yet.

Tuesday
The day was pretty uneventful, but the flight was pure magic. Going into the flight, Dave had bet the Bruins, the Bruins over, the Yankees, Red Sox, Astros, Brewers, and the Celtics +4.5. The biggest bets were the Red Sox and Astros because were around -270, so Dave had like 5.5 units on the line between those two games alone.

We were off to a rough start. The Yankees won, but both Bruins bets lost. The Red Sox were in extras after blowing a 2-1 lead in the 11th. Celtics were down 10. Houston blew a lead 3-1 to Baltimore. The Brewers down 4-0. And then everything changed. Big Cat came back to my coach seat and told me to switch. I’d go to first class and sit next to Dave to bring us home some winners. After a quick trip to the bathroom, I got out and Dave said “Did you just do that?” I had no idea what he was talking about. A “memory” popped up on his phone that was just a picture of us from Vegas. I said that may change our mojo. That’s exactly what it did.

The Red Sox hit a two run double to take a 4-2 lead. The Celtics were down 105-100 and had just fouled the Bucks. They missed the first free throw and hit the second. They were down 6. The line was +4.5. We were just following along on Gamecast. The time updates before the score. We saw the clock stop at 0.1 seconds. The score hadn’t updated. We assumed it was a miss on a long 3 from Boston or something. We were wrong. Jaylen Brown made a shot at the last possible moment and Boston covered. 106-102. We weren’t done yet. The Brewers stormed back to make it 4-3. Then they hit back to back homers in the 9th to tie it up and then walk it off. Magic.

The Astros also won and capped off a great night. We finished 5-2. From down like 9 units to up about 3 units. I had a hero’s welcome when I got off the plane, even though my ears popped real bad as we landed. I couldn’t hear anything and had a weird rolling sound in my left ear.

So the streak rolls on.

That’ll do it for a great weekend in San Antonio and a wild March Madness. Dave and I had quite a run with college basketball. From Facebook lives, to Vegas, to his apartment, to the Final Four in San Antonio. It’s been a few weeks I’ll never forget, and I love all the recap sizzles. From Barstool’s sizzle king Noah, to a very talented Stoolie, to the Bud Light recap.

We’re on to baseball and hopefully we can keep this train rolling.

Best wishes,
Smokes