(Featured image by Marshall Saiz/lobophotostore.com)
By Mark “Ticky” Smith
Enchanted Sports Editor in Chief
On second thought, our second week might have just changed our future.
The plan was to provide a little extra sports coverage in New Mexico, especially in the Albuquerque Metro area.
We know we can’t be at all the press conferences, road games and will, probably, even miss some home games.
Then again, maybe not.
Yes, we at Enchantment Sports all have families, other jobs and lives. We all decided to open Enchantment Sports as a passion for New Mexico sports.
Apparently, it’s already become a passion for many fans — as well as many sponsors. Please visit the links from our great sponsors, like El Pinto restaurant, High Noon Restaurant & Saloon, Galles Chevrolet, Albuquerque Dukes, Rudy Chavez Law Firm, Graphic Connection, Windsor Door Sales, Dazzling Displays and more to come.
The response has been wild.
After attending the wedding of one of our best friends on Saturday, Greg Archuleta and I bolted to University Stadium to watch the Lobo football team’s 62-30 blitz of Incarnate Word.
I attended the wedding – a classy and beautiful affair – with la familia, but Greg and I knew the Enchantment Sports world was calling (see below).
The groom’s father, Andrew Avilucea, one of New Mexico’s biggest sports fans and all-out great guy, told us, “You guys need to get over to the Lobo game. People are counting on you.”
Greg and I had planned to leave the reception early, but now we really had to go. It turned out to be a pretty good move.
At both the wedding reception and the game, it’s come to my attention that Enchantment Sports is getting some love.
A household word?
By no means.
An Incarnate Word?
Whoa, let’s not go there. (Although, when it comes to the Cardinals’ football team, I think even I could have pushed my chubby gut through those gaping holes for a few yards on Saturday.)
But we discovered the word about Enchantment Sports is definitely out. And it’s just made our commitment even stronger.
By the way, what do you think about our new logo? (We’re still working on getting our social media versions.) I have to say, it is pretty darn sweet. It will be on the shirts we give away — and maybe even sell.
Shirt and gift-certificate giveaways are still coming. We’ll let you know plenty of time in advance.
In two weeks, we’ve already raised the bar for New Mexico sports journalism. Heck, New Mexico journalism, period.
Check the three-part series on J.R. Giddens and Paul Weir, and scoop on the reasons for the firing of Sandia girls soccer coach Troy Wheeler. Outside of our friends at The Sports Animal and KKOB Radio, the local media apparently won’t touch the story.
Better for us.
If nothing else, we will make this town’s journalism better. Someone had to.
Now we need to figure out how to keep raising our own bar, but it’s not going to be easy.
Everyone we talked to expressed a big-time need for better local stories, real local stories, non-slanted stories.
Everyone told us there is a need for us. Well, we’re willing to do what you need as readers and sports fans, but we also have a need for you.
Again, thank you for being there for us!!!
We will keep busting our tushes, and we are committed to checking out any tips, story ideas and features you suggest. Just email EnchantmentSportsNM@gmail.com, and you won’t be ignored.
Start spreading the news
Man, I tried. Oh, how I tried.
During the past 30 years, I have tried to pitch it to TV and newspapers. As usual, the media around these parts have been three decades behind, and the idea didn’t get a second thought.
They have been 30 years behind.
Probably the only item of interest to many on national TV die-hards, is ESPN’s “Bad Beats” on the Scott Van Pelt show.
For decades, I wanted to try something similar called “Spread the News.” I wanted to do a segment on the plays that decided the betting line – not the game, itself.
“Spread the News” wouldn’t have dealt with final score, standings or anything else that is meaningless to the “gaming enthusiast.”
While it had no backing from the media geniuses in these parts, I haven’t given up. And guess what?
It’s going to happen here.
While Van Pelt is still the man, maybe he will check out some of our wagering wildness.
Because, as my longtime buddy Jimmy Escobedo told me in college, “It’s not whether you win or lose.
“It’s if you cover the spread.”
As fate would have it, this weekend’s “Spread the News” champion came right here in Burque. Incarnate Word – a 35.5 point underdog (listed by Stations casinos and plenty of websites) – led 7-0, trailed 28-7, trailed 28-13 when it kicked a field goal late in the half with the ball at the 2 and fumbled and allowed a 51-yard TD pass with 5 seconds left in the half. The Lobos led 35-16 at the break, meaning the spread was well in play either way.
Three straight TDs and the Lobos are on the way to covering the spread, up 55-16 early in the fourth quarter. Then it gets wild.
Incarnate Word TD with 10 minutes left cuts it to a 32-point lead (spread, remember, is 35.5) at 55-23 and backups are all over the field.
But Lobo backers are saved when the Cardinals are pinned back in their territory, punt and UNM covers 40 yards in six plays for a score with 2:58 left to make it 62-23 (39 points).
Those who took the Lobos and gave the points start lining up to cash their winning tickets.
On third and 4 from the UIW 23, Ameer King runs for 58 yards to UNM’s 19. On the next play, it’s King for 13 yards to the 6.
Then the wacky play of the spread season — which may take a while to be replaced as play of the year. A short slant pass over the middle is completed, but the receiver is hit and the ball bounces towards the end zone.
A recovery means a winning wager for one side or the other.
The Cardinals’ Brandon McDuffie dives, then snatches the ball in mid-bounce for an amazing back-door TD with 58 seconds left — and a 62-30 count.
The final Word: Cards cover the 35.5 spread.
Scotty? Check it, brah.
Nova, that is. Because my life is not a fantasy. At least not a fantasy draft.
I haven’t seen a single ranking, and won’t until this (Sept. 2) afternoon. The draft for our Albuquerque Media Fantasy Football League – starting its 23rd year – is tonight at 7.
It’s not going to be pretty from my end.
But it will be fulfilling for the other owners.
They asked me to make my specialty, known as “The Beans,” or “The Truth” (folks can’t handle it). It’s the hottest mess of a quintet of beans, prime steak, hot links, veggies, burger, green, red and Texas chile and, well, I’m not even sure.
It leaves your mouth burning, yet watering.
So I’ll work on a pile of it all day, race to the draft and hope John Elway is still available at No. 7.
If not, maybe Steve Young or Jim Brown.
Man, it’s going to be a nightmare season.
• Isaac Avilucea and Kathleen: Isaac was one of Albuquerque’s best hard-sports news journalists Albuquerque never really had. He was a tenacious reporter at the Daily Lobo, the Santa Fe New Mexican and in Socorro before heading east. He returned to his native Burque this past week, and on Saturday married his New Jersey love, Kathleen — right here in the Duke. Congrats guys. Love ya both.
• Charley Bickel: The son of High Noon owner Carla Villa and husband Mike Bickel, and the grandson of Charley and Shirley Villa, got a shot to intern with the UNM sports information department this past week. The first gig the department’s chief, Frank Mercogliano, gave him was press box announcer. Nice job Charley and Frank.
• The Meineke Muffler manager who came up to me in the parking lot after the Lobo game and said he’s an Enchantment Sports fan.
• And, of course, my main man, 8-year-old Brock, and wife, Robyn. Brock put up with dad and mom doing a lot of stuff that took time away from him the past two weeks, but was his usual charming, happy and incredibly-behaved self throughout a long day of weddings, receptions, games and waiting for pops to get home late.
Love you, my little man. You’re my best friend and world’s greatest son.
Mark Smith has been in New Mexico sports journalism for four decades and is the editor in chief of Enchantment Sports. Contact him at enchantmentsportsNM@gmail.com.