Who’s conflicted about sports? World Series of Poker edition

While the idea of writing about the cartographic results of ESPN SportsNation polls long has percolated in my mind, it (obviously to you, erstwhile ALDLAND reader) never took off. In part I suspect this is because there’s little categorical variety in the types of conclusions we ordinarily draw from these maps, those being 1) the one state associated with the obvious minority view holds out, probably irrationally, against the weight of a nationwide majority and 2) shoot, there really aren’t too many people with internet connections in Mississippi are there? After a very short time, this would become boring to read and write.

We are living in the post-peak-SportsNation world, though, which means that, if this thing’s going to work at all, we’ve got to try it now, but with a slightly different angle of approach. Instead of focusing on the people who supported a poll choice, we’ll look at those states where the voters were not able to reach consensus.

For those unfamiliar with the mechanics of these voting maps, ESPN assigns colors to each of the poll options and presents each state as the color of the option most popular among that state’s voters. Where there is a tie between leading options, however, the state appears grey. These indecisive states are the focus here.

ESPN (I assume from the existence of this poll and Norm Macdonald’s late-night tweeting) has been televising the World Series of Poker this week, and SportsNation, in a totally happenstance, non-marketing-driven poll, casually asked, “How would you rate your poker game?” Here are the results:

nv-pokerWhile we could postulate that Louisianans spend too much time playing Three-card Monte and Arkansans are just people who picked up the rudiments of poker as a post-hoc character alibi while on the run from an out-of-state murder rap, but we don’t really know any of that for certain, and it’s more– though still, extremely mildly– entertaining to note that Nevada, home to the nation’s largest casinos, has no opinion on the matter.

UPDATE: A plurality of Nevada voters now say they do not play poker at all. Click the map above to see the very latest results.

Could A-Rod be the 21st century’s Pete Rose?

From the front page of the USA Today sports section:

The New York Yankees third baseman is being investigated by Major League Baseball for participating in illegal poker games and could face suspension.

“We take this very seriously and have been investigating this matter since the initial allegation,” MLB spokesman Pat Courtney said in a statement. “As part of the investigation, the commissioner’s office will interview Mr. Rodriguez.”

The first allegation came early last month when Star Magazine published a story that several people saw Rodriguez playing in poker games that were also attended by celebrities such as Leonardo DiCaprio, Ben Affleck and Matt Damon.

Wednesday, RadarOnline.com alleged that drugs were used in one game, and that another game organized by Rodriguez ended when a fight not involving the slugger nearly broke out. RadarOnline.com cited unnamed “eyewitnesses.”

One subsequent article states that A-Rod faces a risk of suspension, while others report questioning of the initial story by A-Rod’s publicist and others.

In the big game of baseball legacies, Rodriguez already has two strikes against him and is fouling off pitches due to admitted steroid use, a soft reputation on the field, and a sometimes misguided personal life away from the diamond. But what if it was a gambling problem that actually knocked him out?

While there are no allegations A-Rod gambled on baseball or any other sport, it’s Pete Rose’s gambling issue alone that’s keeping him out of the hall of fame. (For more on the baseball hall of fame’s potential anomalies, click here.) Charlie Hustle has all sorts of support, even given his gambling issue. It’s tough to imagine many people clamoring in A-Rod’s defense were this yet-unexplored potential gambling issue to blow up for him. If gambling put Rodriguez out of the game and the hall, it would be the only thing he and Rose had in common.