Nobody asked me (about casinos or Ray Rice), but . . .

On Rice's ovation, the Horseshoe's opening, O'Malley's timing, Davis' duende

August 09, 2014|Dan Rodricks

Nobody asked me, but … the fans who gave Ray Rice a standing ovation before Thursday's preseason game apparently have not read the Ravens' fan behavior policy — specifically, the part that says: "Fans help shape the Ravens' image." They also missed this: "Have fun, root hard, show respect for the fans around you, but don't be a jerk!"

The policy obviously needs to be revised. Along with cowbells and coolers, it ought to prohibit mass displays of obtuseness about domestic violence.

Nobody asked me, but … now that it's finally here, I get a bad vibe from the new Horseshoe Baltimore casino on Russell Street. From the outside, it looks like a classy joint, and I'm sure it will attract people with plenty of disposable income. But in Baltimore, one in four citizens lives in poverty; the median family income in the last census was $40,803 (well below Maryland's median of $72,999). While the Horseshoe might provide jobs, it also provides a more convenient way for the poor to get even poorer.

And, just to drive home that point: the Maryland Transit Administration recently announced that, just before the Horseshoe's Aug. 26 opening, the MTA will realign the No. 51 bus line to "connect residents from neighborhoods in west and southwest Baltimore to job opportunities at the casino."

That's fine, but the tweaking of the No. 51 will also keep the suckers coming and the slot machines humming.

But, of course, we already knew this, right? We voted to legalize slots and to allow five casinos across the state, and then we voted to legalize table games and a sixth casino at National Harbor.

And, while table games attract gamblers — especially young men — with disposable income, we know that a disproportionate number of people from lower-income groups patronize the state lottery and hit the slot machines pretty hard. In a recent analysis, the Capital News Service found that people in one of Baltimore's poorest ZIP codes, in the Park Heights area (median household income $35,000), spent $34 million on lottery tickets in 2012, more than any other ZIP code in the state.

And we know the game is rigged so that the casinos make a fortune. Not for nothin' is MGM about to spend nearly $1 billion on a casino at National Harbor in Prince George's County. (Prince George's, by the way, led the state in foreclosures during the housing crisis, and continues to suffer related problems.)

Fact: The Maryland Live casino in Arundel Mills made nearly $60 million in June. Mike Schuh, reporter for WJZ-TV, tweeted some math on that: "LIVE's $60 Million 'revenue' per month means gamblers are LOSING $2 million a day or $83k per hour? WOW!"

Yeah, wow, and just think what comes next: Baltimoreans who couldn't get to Maryland Live on a regular basis can just hop the No. 51 and lose their money on Russell Street.

Nobody asked me, but … Gov. Martin O'Malley seems to post late on a lot of issues: legalized slots (he was against them before he was for them); same-sex marriage (he favored civil unions until one of his potential presidential rivals, Gov. Andrew Cuomo, led the effort to extend marriage rights to gay and lesbian couples in New York); abolition of the death penalty (O'Malley finally pushed for repeal, but has yet to commute the sentences of Maryland's four remaining death row inmates).

Now O'Malley says — in annoyingly treacly prose that passes for lyrical profundity — it's time for the NFL team that plays in Landover to change its offensive name. ("We hope that in every generation we become more understanding of one another, more inclusive as a people, and more respectful of the dignity of every individual and every culture, so I think it probably is time for the Redskins to change their name.")

Of course, many others, including O'Malley's lieutenant governor, already have called for the same. Better late than never? Not if you call yourself a leader — and want others to call you Mr. President.

Nobody asked me, but … Steven Price's extraordinary soundtrack from "Gravity," the 2013 space thriller directed by Alfonso Cuarón, is an underappreciated element of that excellent film. (Wish list: "Gravity" at IMAX at the Maryland Science Center, please.) . . . Recommended: a French film recently discovered, "The Day I Saw Your Heart," starring the alluring Melanie Laurent.

And nobody asked me, but … few things in sports have been as bizarre as Orioles slugger Chris Davis batting under .200 while hitting 19 home runs and notching 54 runs batted in. Those were his numbers going into the weekend series with St. Louis.

Maybe the duende, the ghostly power that rises up in certain performers at extraordinary moments, is with him. I've suspected it for a couple of years. Remember the Orioles' surreal victory in Boston in 2012? It was a 17-inning game, with Davis, as designated hitter, going hitless in eight at-bats but going down in history as the game's winning pitcher. That's the stuff of duende. You can look it up.

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