Welcome to the Thursday edition of The Cooler, where I can feel a road trip coming on. Let’s get to it:
*Sports wagering in the United States is not a new concept. The legal expansion of it, however, is still quite fresh.
While it used to be the sole domain of Nevada — with Las Vegas at the epicenter — a ruling by the U.S. Supreme Court last year has paved the way for a bunch of states to legalize some form of sports betting.
By the end of 2018, nine states had joined Nevada. Seven more states legalized it in 2019 — and some of those states are now rolling out their sports books just in time for football season.
Chief among them, at least in terms of local interest: Iowa, our friendly (?) neighbor to the south, opens sports books at eight of its casinos on Thursday — with 18 more expected to follow suit within the next few weeks.
Among those opening today is the William Hill Sports Book at the Isle Casino Hotel in Waterloo, whose book will feature “eight 65-inch odds boards, 15 55-inch viewing screens totaling more than 46 feet of viewing monitors and both standard tables and high-top tables creating an optimal viewing experience for fans to gather to watch their favorite teams,” per a news release.
The book opens at noon, with baseball Hall of Famer Andre Dawson slated to be on hand for the ceremonial first bet.
Waterloo is a few hours south of here; the Diamond Jo Casino, slated to open its sports book soon, is even closer — about 90 minutes, give or take, straight down Interstate-35 and just across the border.
Iowa sports books will allow bets at casinos and through a mobile app that needs to activated in-person at one of the sports books — and will only work within the state.
Minnesota’s state legislature has mulled the possibility of adding legal sports betting in both 2018 and 2019, but the idea has been met with opposition.
Iowa, then, provides somewhat of an interesting test kitchen. How will folks in that state — who, let’s face it, aren’t much different from Minnesotans no matter how much we might protest in light of regional rivalries — gravitate toward legal sports betting? And will Minnesotans make weekend runs across the border rather than placing illegal wagers or hopping planes to Vegas?
I might just have to hop in my car a few Sundays from now and find out.
*Two Jorge Polanco errors on Wednesday — the second one very costly as the ignition for Milwaukee’s three-run rally in the eighth inning of a 6-5 victory — puts the Twins at 85 errors on the season. Only the White Sox, Tigers and Mariners have made more errors in the majors this season.
The average team has made 71 errors; and the 2017 Twins made just 78 errors all season.
The bullpen has been in meltdown mode. Team defense has become 1A on the list of problems on an otherwise very good team.
*Drew Magary’s annual series on NFL teams is always worth your time. His entry on the Vikings — Drew’s favorite team, and probably yours, too — is particularly essential reading (language warning, of course).
*Minnesota United secured an important three points with a 1-0 home victory over Colorado on Wednesday.
A quick look at the Western Conference standings reveals a jumbled mess that nonetheless has clear implications: LAFC is the clear frontrunner and should waltz its way to a bye. Seven more teams are battling in earnest for the final six spots, with the top three of those remaining qualifiers getting to host a first-round playoff game.
The Loons are in second place right now, but only five points separate 2-8. That’s some pretty good tension for the home stretch, with anything from hosting the playoffs to missing them entirely possible with nine matches remaining.