It's that time of year again, when local politicians make silly bets over their sports teams contending for national titles. New York Governor Andrew Cuomo and California Governor Jerry Brown released the details of their friendly wager Tuesday, a day ahead of Game One between the New York Rangers and Los Angeles Kings for the Stanley Cup. There's no other way to say this — the bet is a bummer. Here are the (lame) stakes, as reported by Capital New York:
To Cuomo, on the occasion of a Rangers victory:
- California: A History, the book by Kevin Starr
- Lundberg Organic Brown Rice Cakes, Lightly Salted
To Brown, on the occasion of a Kings victory:
- A hockey puck Cuomo had made to celebrate three years of on-time state budgets in a row, or what he called a "hat trick." This year, to celebrate his fourth, Cuomo commissioned a baseball, calling the occasion a "grand slam."
- A basket of New York food, including "spiedie marinade, chicken wing sauce from Buffalo, and a bottle of wine from the Finger Lakes."
This bet sucks. Political sports bets are always corny and embarrassing for everyone involved, but this seems especially uninspired. It's as if aides in each office were reluctantly told at lunch today to hash out terms for a wager with whatever they could find lying around the office. Oh, I brought rice cakes for lunch, will that work? I was going to Buffalo Wild Wings for lunch, said another, on the opposite coast. The whole point of gambling is to risk something you don't want to lose. Instead, they're re-gifting hockey pucks no one has any use for.
Judgment was swift and brutal. "This isn't a wager. This is a cry for help," joked ESPN's Don Van Natta Jr. "This is an insult to the noble and ancient practice of gambling," said 538's Walt Hickey. "Cuomo gets rice cakes, Brown gets wine, hot sauce?" clarified Capital's own Alex Weprin. "This is not an even wager." By no measure is this bet acceptable.
This is New York versus Los Angeles! The two biggest cities in the U.S. facing off for the best trophy in sports! Our nation's coastal capitals competing for only the 11th time! Rice cakes and Buffalo (they have their own team, remember?) sauce? Hopefully, L.A. mayor Eric Garcetti and New York mayor Bill de Blasio can recover their respective cities from this state-sanctioned embarrassment.