Pursuit of happiness, through gambling: ‘30 for 30’ volume 1, episode 6 recap

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2020 might be the most fascinating year of my life, but for so many negative reasons.

I think of 2020 as that pitcher with a disgusting curveball that no one can really figure out. If you get under it, it’s a flyout. If you get over it, you’re grounding out to first.

Oh, you wouldn’t swing? You’re looking at strikeout city, buddy, and that will land you right back next to your teammate who’s scratching his scalp on the bench.

It’s a lose-lose-lose situation. Until that one veteran, deep in the dugout, is given a chance by an irate manager to DH and goes yard for 400 and beyond.

So far, none of us have figured out this COVID-19 curveball. Everyone is scratching their heads, wondering when it will finally all be over. But I know somewhere in our metaphorical world dugout, we have a veteran who can hit this thing and send it to the moon.

I know that eventually a person (or group of people) will be that veteran for all of us and end our quarantine misery, but I have no other predictions for the future beyond my weekly routine of recapping “30 for 30” episodes.

I guess we’ll all just keep swinging until the veteran arrives.

Let’s get after it.

 

Volume 1, Episode 6: “The Legend of Jimmy the Greek”

Jimmy, Jimmy, Jimmy. Oh, what should have been.

These past few “30 for 30” episodes have been disheartening, to say the least, mainly because the people of interest in each episode were so well received by the general public.

Jimmy “The Greek” Snyder is a different case.

Born in Steubenville, Ohio, Snyder started gambling at the age of 13 in the early ’30s, and goodness gracious, was he terrific at that.

Honestly, I was even impressed with the fact that he bet on Harry Truman to win the general election at 17-1 odds and won $170,000. (This was because he had faith that Americans didn’t like mustaches and that they wouldn’t vote for Thomas Dewey, who sported one.)

The documentary chronicles Snyder’s time on camera — and how he commanded the attention of so many people who decided to tune in to “The NFL Today” on CBS in the ’80s.

The ensemble team of “The NFL Today” in the ’80s included Phyllis George, Irv Cross and Brent Musburger. They were the A-Team in reality, but Snyder was the man that so many viewers tuned in to see. He was relatable, relaxed in his demeanor, but most of all, he was good at being The Greek.

No one on cable TV could do what Snyder did and be as accurate as he was with his predictions. He was essentially the voice of Vegas for the everyday man or woman who wanted to learn more about the separate universe that is gambling.

Snyder’s former co-workers Musburger and Cross didn’t really have anything bad to say about him, but George sure did. In what ended up being a random but important tangent of the episode, George admitted that Snyder was incredibly rude to her off the air.

Synder even went so far as to tell George (seconds before they went on air, I might add) that he hated her husband. Beyond that incident, he made the general workspace uncomfortable for her. So much so that they ended up filming at different times to satisfy the show’s needs.

The moral of this episode is that The Greek was a different man off camera. He was a man who lost his mother in a shooting by his deranged uncle and a man who lived through three of his children’s deaths related to cystic fibrosis.

Snyder is a different kind of main character than the ones from past “30 for 30” episodes. He isn’t someone you root for, or even feel all that bad for when his downward spiral comes.

This became blatantly obvious when Snyder described Black people as better athletes than white people because they’ve “been bred to be that way” since the days of slavery. This is an impossible pill to swallow, and it’s a shame that these were the words of The Greek.

In this day and age, many wouldn’t blink an eye before canceling Snyder and condemning him for his racist comments.

Filmed in 2009, however, the episode interestingly shows his former co-workers forgiving him. Their sympathy was almost widespread, and they even described his firing and eventual downfall as “heartbreaking.”

I don’t know how to feel about The Greek. Do I feel bad for what he and his family endured? Absolutely. There’s just no excuse to act the way he did and say the things he said.

My concluding thoughts on this episode would simply be that The Greek fell ill to fame, and a glaring symptom of that condition is the feeling of being untouchable, which so many celebrities seem to adopt over the course of their careers.

However, Snyder is just more proof that even those at the top can easily find their way back to the bottom.

Lucas Perkins-Brown covers lacrosse. Contact him at [email protected].