Specifically, it was poor out-of-conference showings for Orange and Wickliffe. But the Lions and Blue Devils have come to play in 2011. Both went 2-1 in nonconference games, and they are both 3-2 before Week 6 games.
Orange also picked up a conference win over Perry in Week 4. It's only third time the Lions have beaten one of the Chagrin's big five - Aurora, Chagrin Falls, Kenston, Perry and West Geauga - since the begin of league play in 2005.
Oddly enough, the bottom-feeder this season is the second-biggest school in the league (by OHSAA enrollment figures). Harvey was 1-4 before its game against Perry on Friday.
It's too early to tell if added computer points from Wickliffe and Orange will keep West Geauga and Aurora high enough in the Division II, Region 5 playoff race (West G and Aurora would have to win those games first, of course). Before Friday, West Geauga was first, and Aurora was sixth in Region 5. Keep in mind, with all the Chagrin teams playing each other, someone is bound to fall because not everyone can win every game.
But thanks to Wickliffe and Orange, the CVC Chagrin has a stronger playoff foundation - not that it wasn't already strong enough.
Each week, Sports Editor Mark Podolski picks five games, four against the spread: one high school, two college and two NFL.
A nice 4-1 week puts us at 10-5 on the season, so let's get started with Week 4 picks:
HIGH SCHOOL (no betting line, of course).
Lake Catholic vs. Benedictine at Bedford High School: The Bengals are surging again after a few down seasons, and stand 5-0. After a 4-0 start, Lake Catholic dropped its first game of the season last week against Walsh Jesuit. The Cougars have played it close to the vest all season, winning tight games, while Benedictne has scored some points this fall, averaging 34 points. PICK: Benedictine 21, Lake Catholic 19
Michigan State (-3) at Ohio State: The schools don't play each other a lot because of scheduling rotations over the years, so it's tough to gauge how intense this matchup has grown in the last 10, 20 years. This one should be different. Both teams have plenty to prove, especially since it's the Big Ten opener. OSU has a tough stretch upcoming after this one, and the feeling here is it desperately needs to strong start in the conference. PICK: Ohio State 20, Michigan State 16
Nebraska (+9.5) at Wisconsin: The Badgers welcome the Cornhuskers to the Big Ten with a game at Camp Randall Stadium. Good luck. Quarterback Russell Wilson has been great and while Wisconsin hasn't been tested so far, Nebraska's Tyler Martinez isn't ready for this huge stage just yet. PICK: Wisconsin 34, Nebraska 20
Tennessee (-1.5) at Browns: Is this the game Titans running back Chris Johnson gets on track? In three games, Johnson doesn't have 100 yards combined, so he'll be determined on Sunday. The Browns rushing defense continues to struggle, ranking 29th in the NFL, allowing 128.7 yards per game. Johnson should get his yards, but with receiver Kenny Britt out for the season, I'm not sure how the Ttitans score a ton of points. PICK: Browns 21, Tennessee 10.
Detroit (-1.5) at Dallas: I'm a Lions believer, especially quarterback Matt Stafford, and the Detroit D. PICK: Detroit 28, Dallas 24
Why are athletes hesitant to say they are seeing a psychologist?
NASCAR drive Denny Hamlin is seeing a psychologist.
Why is this news?
Because he has admitted he is seeing a psychologist.
How many athletes seek help and don't admit it?
Why are they afraid to admit it?
Why not come out in the open and admit you need a little help to cope with the problems life hands you?
I can count on one hand athletes who have come out and admitted they've needed help. Those athletes include Delonte West...Delonte West...and, well he's the only one.
So I guess I can't count athletes who have admitted to seeing a psychologist on one hand.
I understand psychological problems are very personal.
I just believe if an athlete has the courage to admit he or she has a problem, it may help motivate a fan, fellow teammate or coach to seek help themselves.
This is a big responsibility, I understand that.
But why not?
I'm not a professional psychologist, just a sports reporter trying to understand why more athletes aren't as brave at Hamlin?
I give him credit.
He has admitted he has a problem, and he's determined to fix it.
He also isn't afraid to let anyone know about it.
-Theresa Neuhoff Audia
Click here to see the complete ESPN article on Denny Hamlin.
So there's a touchdown in the NFL, late in the fourth quarter, that puts the home team on top, and the receiver drops to his knees. Another player comes over and goes to his knees to congratulate the receiver and that constitutes a group celebration. Flag. 15 yard penalty.
Look, I am all for keeping the Terrell Owens circus locked away or any choreographed nonsense that takes 4-5 minutes to complete in the end zone. But referees really need to start using judgment and think about intent when it comes to these celebration penalties.
If two players can't get excited about scoring a game-winning touchdown without showing up the other team, then it's not a competitive, red-blooded sport.
It's now become chess.
Every winning move can only have a small scale mini-clap or head nod lest it be looked at as insensitive and rude behavior toward the opposition? It's football. It should still be fun and emotional without every act of joy resulting in a 15-yard penalty.
Fortunately for Peyton Hillis, the Browns found a way to beat the Dolphins on Sunday.
Otherwise, the Browns running back might have been the whipping boy for another loss at home. He shouldn't be questioned for missing Sunday's game.
If you have ever endured a case of strep throat, you know what I'm talking about.
I would call myself a veteran of step throat. I've had it so many times as a kid and adult, I can't remember. It seems as if every winter, strep throat was hunting me down.
Back to Hillis and strep throat, who some think it's simply a case of a sore throat. No, no, no. Strep throat is having the flu, times five, at least from my perspective. It can knock you down and out for days, making going to the bathroom or getting a drink of water a real chore.
For Hillis and the Browns, it was a case of bad luck. Strep throat is tough to beat and it can knock out even the toughest guys like Hillis when it grabs you.
Fortunately for Hillis, everything worked out. Had the Browns lost, it would not have been fair to pin it on Hillis.
On Saturday, for the first time in the program's short history, I had the chance to cover the Lake Erie College football team.
The Storm put up a good fight, holding a lead in the fourth quarter against nationally ranked Hillsdale (Mich.) only to fall, 35-26.
Personally, although I'm thrilled to see it come to fruition, even seeing Lake Erie on the gridiron is still taking some getting used to.
As a 2002 graduate of LEC, I was on campus right before the boom period you see today, during which Lake Erie is a full-fledged NCAA Division II program.
Let me be clear. I loved my time at Lake Erie. It's a great school that provided me a great education, and I met some good people, including some hard-working student-athletes. LEC afforded me a once-in-a-lifetime chance to travel through England for two weeks. Getting a college degree from LEC was one of the proudest moments of my life.
All that said, that period was a transitional time for the school to be sure.
Many of my communications classes back in the day had less than 10 people. Walking to class, you might see between 5-10 people on the outside around campus. I never had a class on a Friday, and it wasn't because I chose not to go. The student body was an eclectic mix of commuters and a tightly knit group of resident students at a school still known primarily for its equestrian program. My graduating class of around 110 was the largest to that point in school history.
None of that is to knock the school at all. It just goes to show you how far Lake Erie has come in the last decade.
So while it had to be disappointing Saturday to come up a couple of fourth-quarter stops from an upset of a nationally ranked team, just having a football program at all in the position to do something like that is a fantastic step forward. Not to sound old or anything, but back in my day if football at Lake Erie came up in discussion, it was essentially sarcasm as a pipe dream. That vision didn't seem to be there.
If you need to know just how far Lake Erie has come, ask me or anyone else with whom I went to school. In the sports sense, which seems to have galvanized the entire campus as well, it really is night and day between 2002 and today.
I wonder if the Indians would have made plans for a Jim Thome statue this soon had they not traded for the slugger this season.
The guess is ... NO WAY. So, why the hurry to erect a statue of Thome at Heritage Park?
Had the Indians not traded for Thome this season, and if you asked 100 Indians fans should the team put a statue in Heritage Park, I'm guessing more than half would say it wasn't a good idea. At least, not right now.
I'm not saying this is a prisoner-of-the-moment, let's-take-advantage-of-the-situation decision by the Indians. I'm sure the team was in discussion to recognize Thome after he hit his 600th career home run earlier this season in some way. I'm saying it seems a bit soon.
Soon because, as all Indians fans should know, Larry Doby deserves a statue. So does Napoleon Lajoie. So does Tris Speaker. Omar Vizquel? Albert Belle? Rocky Colavito? There's a solid argument for all.
Ledgemont running back Danny LaRosa has joined some exclusive company in area football history. By the end of the season, he could be one of the area's top three career rushers.
We had a feeling LaRosa could break into the top 10 this season. But we weren't sure because he didn't qualify for our season leaders in his freshman year. Thanks to Ledgemont football statistician Johnna Gilkerson and Head Coach Joe LaRosa, who went over film from 2008, we know for sure. Here are Danny LaRosa's career rushing totals:
2008: 392 yards
2009: 1,442 yards
2010: 1,469 yards
2011: 876 yards through Week 4
Career total: 4,179 through Week 4
You might wonder why our list is regular-season only. It's a debate we revisit in the newsroom from time to time. But this is the best way to compare players without skewing the numbers. Everyone plays a maximum of 10 regular-season games per year. A level playing field, if you will.
For example, when Mentor and Chagrin Falls played in back-to-back state championship games, it was the equivalent of adding a full regular season's worth of games to their schedules for those two years. They earned those by winning, of course. But the playoffs are also about team goals, not padding individual statistics.
If every school qualified for the playoffs, we could add playoff statistics because every school would have a chance to advance in the postseason. But they don't, so we stick with only the regular season.
Another note: We're always looking for historical statistics. If there is someone not on the list you think qualifies, let us know. Our research expert, Chris Lillstrung, has spent more hours than he would care to admit combing through News-Herald and Painesville Telegraph microfilm, but statistics from before the 1980s are a tough find.
Each week, sports editor Mark Podolski picks five games, four against the spread: one high school, two college and two NFL.
A rough 2-3 week last week put my overall record at 6-4 entering Week 3, so there is some work to do. Here we go:
HIGH SCHOOL (No betting line, of course.)
Cuyahoga Heights at Kirtland: This game has been one of the best small-school rivalries in northeast Ohio for a while. Last season, the Hornets traveled to Cuyahoga Heights and escaped with a narrow victory. The two teams met again in the Division V playoffs and the Hornets handled the Redskins, 31-10. Cuyahoga Heights lost some good players off last year's squad but still has a solid nucleus, but Kirtland seems to be on a nice roll. PICK: Kirtland 30, Cuyahoga Heights 20
Colorado (+15) at Ohio State: True freshman Braxton Miller was named Ohio State's starting QB on Thursday, so at least there is a sense of direction for the team, especially on offense. Still, there is plenty to be concerned about if you're betting on this game. Miller will surely make "freshman" mistakes and the offense, in general, has nothing to hang its hat on. Colorado is just 1-2, coming off a rivalry win over Colorado State, and averaging 27 points per game. PICK: Ohio State 21, Colorado 10
LSU at West Virginia (+6): Speaking of offenses, West Virginia can score points in minutes, but don't forget what the LSU defense did to the vaunted Oregon offense to start this season. Until I see a team score in bunches against the Tigers, I'll go with Coach Les Miles and Co. PICK: LSU 26, WVU 14
Miami (+2.5) at Browns: The Browns fixed a lot of their problems from the season-opening loss to the Bengals to the win last week at Indianapolis, while the Dolphins are 0-2 with losses against quality opponents New England and Houston. Miami is a desperate team and have traditionally performed well on the road. The Browns have been known to follow good wins with a clunker loss, but perhaps times are changing by the lakefront. In Vegas, I'll still take the Dolphins. PICK: Browns 24, Dolphins 23
Green Bay at Chicago (+3.5): The Packers are 2-0, while the Bears are 1-1 after losing big in New Orleans. Drew Brees and his receivers looked good against the Bears secondary last week. Expect the same from Aaron Rodgers and his Green Bay receivers. PICK: Green Bay 31, Chicago 24
There are a lot of stadiums in our area that have the newest everything, from technology to turf to the product the host school puts on the field.
But it doesn't hurt to go to the grassroots in a sense and be reminded of the essence of small-school high school football. If you ever want such an experience, Fairport is the place to go.
Full disclosure: Personally, Fairport Harbor will always be special to me, having been where my ancestors originally arrived in America just before the turn of the 20th century before eventually settling just a few miles south in Painesville.
Back to the professional sense, I enjoy that reminder of the stadiums built into the town, where that small-school pride is on display. Greig Field, at which Fairport plays, fits into that perfectly.
The stadium is located in a valley next door to the high school, with trees lining the corners. The press box, perched off the school, sits almost literally over the field. The stadium is so firmly entrenched into the community that it's possible to kick a field goal or an extra point into someone's backyard on one end and into the street on another. The home fans, for the most part, leave their homes, walk down the street and put their money down for a ticket to watch their team play.
To me, that's pretty cool.
With no disrespect meant or implied to anyone else, they don't go two-deep on the sideline. There's not anything necessarily fancy in the playbook. They just line up with what they have and play, for themselves and for the pride of their community.
In a sense, so does their stadium. It's old school and part of what makes area high school football so unique. And it's good to be reminded of that every so often.
Cable sports channels get your money, one way or another
Northeast Ohio has two regional sports networks. Never mind that it only needs one. Here's the fall preview for the two channels:
- SportsTime Ohio: Nothing once the Indians' season is over.
- Fox Sports Ohio: Nothing until the NBA season starts.
Yes, they show some college football and basketball games from other parts of the country, and STO has the contract for the high school football playoffs. But does either channel have programming that you'd pay a premium for each month? Does it have any appointment-viewing shows?
Both of those channels are on most systems' basic cable package. So you're stuck paying for them, whether you watch them or not.
After a 4-1 week, correctly picking Mentor over St. Ignatius, underdog Michigan winning outright over Notre Dame, and easy covers by Alabama (over Penn State) and the Bengals (over the Browns), my lone slip-up was picking the Steelers to cover and win outright at Baltimore.
I was dead-wrong on that one. Let's see if we can go 5-0 for the week.
Madison at University: These 1 p.m. Saturday afternoon kickoffs have to be tricky for teams used to playing Friday nights, but the physical Blue Streaks seem like a determined group. PICK: Madison 28, University 17
Ohio State (+1) at Miami (Fla.): The Buckeyes will be without one of its best defensive players in Nathan Williams and that will make a difference. We'll find out about QB Joe Bauserman and if he's legit. No offense to the 25-year-old, but I don't think he is. Hope I'm wrong. PICK: Miami 17, Ohio State 10
Oklahoma at Florida State (+4): Bob Stoops and the Sooners have a history of coming up short in critical spots, and this game is critical for the race for the BCS national championship. I'm just not buying the Seminoles right now, and OU's offense is lethal. PICK: Oklahoma 33, Florida State 24
BROWNS at Indianapolis (+2.5): Really? The Browns are favorites at the Peyton Manning-less Colts? Really? PICK: Indianapolis 24, BROWNS 13
San Diego (+7) at New England: Tom Brady was awesome last Monday night against the Dolphins, and if this were a normal week for the Pats, I would say it's another easy win. On a short week, I'll take the Chargers to cover. PICK: New England 27, San Diego 21.
SPIRE Institute is a world class facility all around.
So it's no surprise their food service is first class too.
On Wednesday in an event at SPIRE, chefs Paul Pontarelli and Doug Patten set up a beautiful presentation of food for a few hundred people.
Their displays looked like exhibits.
Filet mignon was the entree served on Wednesday, and it was delicious.
I was so impressed with the food itself and the presentation.
Pontarelli and Patten did a great job.
Soon, the public will be able to taste the awesome food at SPIRE. The kitchen will be open to the public.
It's worth the trip.
-Theresa Neuhoff Audia
Click here to see a video interview with chefs Paul Pontarelli and Doug Patten.
On the 10th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks, the New York Mets wanted to wear first responder hats to honor the members of the NYPD and FDNY, but Major League Baseball said NO. Real nice. Well done, Bud Selig.
This past Sunday, on Sept. 11, 2011, the Mets were told they couldn't wear the hats honoring first responders because they wanted to stick with the MLB code that all teams wear the same uniforms.
Is it that important to be "uniform" that MLB would be so disrespectful to one of the most historic events in the history of the USA? What would have damaged? Who would this have hurt?
On one day, but not just ANY day, the Mets wanted to show a sign of respect and solidarity with the country in their town, and Bud Selig and company said, NO.
Can't imagine why there is an image problem with the sport.
Steroids, tie all-star games, beanbrawls. Yep, let's show the Mets by not letting them wear a hat on the anniversary of the nation's greatest tragedy. Makes a lot of sense.
I wish the Mets would have worn the hats anyway. All 9 position players go out and wear the hat and then have MLB either stop the game or fine the team and look like the idiots they already appear to be.
All 9/11 families should boycott MLB games the rest of this year. Sounds ridiculous, doesn't it?
No more ridiculous than not letting the Mets pay homage to some real heroes.
Did we just watch the best season-opening week in NFL history?
It's arguable because of four quarterbacks. For the first time in league history, four QBs threw for over 400 yards in a game during the course of one week.
The previous record was three, accomplished twice. On Dec. 5 and 6 of 2004, Donovan McNabb (464), Peyton Manning (425) and Matt Hasselback (414) pulled it off. On Sept. 21, 1986, Ken O'Brien (479), Dan Marino (448) and Tony Eason (414) accomplished the feat.
On Thursday, Drew Brees opened the 2011 season with 411 yards in a loss to the Packers, while on Sunday rookie Cam Newton of the Panthes surprised everyone with 422 yards. Then, on Monday, the Dolphins' Chad Henne (416) and the Patriots' Tom Brady (517) put on an aerial show.
They says the NFL is now a QB-driven league. No kidding.
It could be a long time before area high school football fans see performances like the ones they saw from three standout players on Friday night.
Those at the Mentor-St. Igantius game, won by the Cardinals, saw QB Mitch Trubisky and WR Cameron Kavan fill up the stat sheet.
Trubisky was 28-of-44 passing for an whopping 469 yards and three touchdowns. The only downer on this night was the four interceptions he threw. According the Ohio High School Athletic Association records on its Website (www.ohssa.org), Trubisky's 469 passing yards ranks 34th on the state's single-game mark.
Kavan's night was equally remarkable. The senior caught 14 passes for 283 yards. The only thing he didn't do was catch a touchdown. According to the OHSAA's records, Kavan's 283 receiving yards ranks 10th all-time for a single-game mark.
Trubisky and Kavan received most of the headlines on Friday, but North RB Jordan Morris deserves mention as well. Morris ran for 284 yards on, get this, nine carries and scored four TDs. For those scoring at home, that's a 31.5-yard average for Morris, who ran for over 300 yards in Week 1. The OHSAA doesn't keep yards-per-carry records, but that mark would probably rank right up there.
Consolidating divisions only helps big markets in baseball
Watching the Indians fall out of the AL Central race this week was tough for Tribe fans. But it could be worse. Here is what the standings would look like if the AL converts to the proposed no-division format and moves Houston in from the National League (through Thursday):
Team W L Pct.
New York 87 55 .613
Boston 85 58 .594
Detroit 81 62 .566
Texas 81 63 .563
Tampa Bay 78 64 .549
Los Angeles 78 65 .545
Chicago 72 70 .507
Toronto 72 72 .500
INDIANS 70 71 .496
Oakland 65 78 .455
Seattle 60 83 .420
Kansas City 60 85 .414
Minnesota 59 84 .413
Baltimore 57 85 .401
Houston 48 95 .336 36
The top five teams would make the playoffs under the proposal. At best, the Indians would be 7.5 games out of the last playoff spot, and instead of competing against a few other teams for the division title, they'd be going against the rest of the AL.
This is also against the current, unbalanced schedule. If it was evened out into a round-robin and those 19 games against Kansas City were trimmed and replaced with more against the Yankees and Red Sox, the Tribe would have an even tougher road.
This would occur every season unless baseball's economic setup changes. The Indians and teams similar to them would basically cede the top few spots by the end of spring. The problem the AL East is facing - Baltimore and Toronto haven't been contenders in years - would be spread to the whole league.
It would take a success story along the lines of the Tampa Rays to nab one of the last playoff spots and the right to take on a big-market team that will have home-field advantage.
That's why if you're an Indians fan, keeping the divisions the way they are is the way to go.
Ten fantasy football predictions to throw against the wall. Hopefully, half stick. Here we go:
1. Colts quarterback Peyton Manning won't play this season. So far, the team hasn't put Manning on injured reserve with the hope he might return in December if the Colts are in playoff contention. Don't bet on it.
2. Peyton Hillis of the Browns will be just fine, fantasy-wise. Forget about the Madden jinx.
3. Redskins running back Tim Hightower will be the player you don't want to own or start, but if you do own him, you will have no choice because he will produce solid fantasy numbers each week.
4. Dallas' Felix Jones will emerge as an elite fantasy running back.
5. Packers RB James Starks will eventually be the guy this season carrying the load. Sorry Ryan Grant owners.
6. Patriots tight end Aaron Hernandez will have at least 65 receptions for about 800 yards and at least five touchdowns, making him top five at his position in point-per-reception leagues.
7. Chargers RB Mike Tolbert will be that player you wished you drafted in the middle rounds.
8. Panthers QB Cam Newton won't be worth your fantasy time. This season.
9. Broncos running back Willis McGahee will have fantasy value this season. Coach John Fox loves having two backs carry the load, so don't forget about the former Bill and Raven.
10. Players ready to take the next fantasy step: Giants WR Mario Manningham, Saints TE Jimmy Graham, Packers WR Jordy Nelson, Rams QB Sam Bradford and Cowboys WR Dez Bryant.
Mayfield XC runner comes up with a creative way to ask his date to homecoming
Mayfield senior Matt Bailey came up with a creative way to ask a girl to the homecoming dance last Saturday.
With a little help from a friend, he held up a blue sign with the words "Kelcie, will you go with me to homecoming?" on it.
He held the sign at the finish line of Kelcie Coffey's cross country race on Saturday at U Wanna Come Back in Madison.
Coffey, a Mayfield junior, was taken back by the sign.
After realizing the sign was for her, Coffey said yes and hugged Bailey.
Bailey immediately took off his warmups and ran to the starting line for the beginning of the boys race.
To see the proposal unfold click here.
So, how did you like the jerseys and helmets Maryland was wearing on Monday night?
Or was that Barnum and Bailey's second string playing the Miami Hurricanes on ESPN?
Creativity - I am usually OK with that. Trying to sell more merchandise? I am fine with that, too.
This abomination on Monday for the Terrapins was borderline comical. It was as if a Division I university who is usually taken seriously and is accredited within the collegiate community asked a group of kindergarten students to design the uniform for the 2011 opener and the kid with least amount of paste in his mouth won the contest!
I would describe it, but it is indescribable. A checker board on one side, a coat of arms cloaked in neon highlighter on the other. Matching sleeves. It was so disturbing that it should have been saved for torture methods in CIA missions that we don't talk about at parties.
Google it, check out ESPN, whatever you need to do, take a peek at what the Maryland Terrapins wore on national TV Monday to open the season.
They should have been flagged as soon as they came out of the locker room.
What a complete trainwreck, assuming the train crashed into a box of Crayolas.
I missed the pulse of sports fans in Cleveland when the Indians acquired Jim Thome last week.
At first blush, I thought it would make for a nice, five-week nostalgia tour. Thome could tie up some loose ends with his original team on the way to Cooperstown, N.Y., and the Indians can sell a few extra tickets. Everyone wins. If they Indians make the playoffs, even better.
But our web poll for this week showed I was in the minority. The question asked, "Should the Indians consider bringing Jim Thome back in 2012?"
The results: 136 yes to 35 no (80 percent to 20 percent). That's a lot of people who want to see a designated hitter who can barely run and can't play in the field. And the Indians have two of those, including Travis Hafner.
Then there's the group of fans who are still mad at Thome for leaving in the first place.
I must be the only one in the middle. Let Thome tip his cap, hit a couple home runs and ride off into the sunset.
Thoughts on the NCAA suspension of 10 Lake Erie College football players, including six starters, for participating in a $5 March Madness bracket pool:
Compared to the controversies surrounding big-time college football programs, this situation at the small Division II school is real head-scratcher.
In one respect, a bunch of college kids filling out a March Madness bracket, putting $5 into the pot and then being punished for it, seems so ridiculous, a slap on the wrist would seem like suitable punishment, if any at all.
One full game? I just don't understand. One quarter, or a half would have seemed fine. One full game is over the top.
In another respect, one has to understand the NCAA's stance on any form of gambling, and coming down hard on anyone found doing so. This is where the problem likely began at Lake Erie. In a situation such as this, and most others, hard evidence is needed.
According to a person close to the football program, a player mentioned the NCAA bracket pool on a social media front, and, bam!, the proof was out there for all to see, and most likely, the NCAA.
Kudos to the school for self-reporting the matter, but from the outside this seems way over the top. Surely a tough lesson was learned.
That being, as a college athlete, the rules of every day life sometimes don't apply. Think about that next time you're in the workplace making a copy of an NCAA bracket, filling it out and throwing $5 in the pot. Nowadays, it's as American as apple pie.