TOUTS OR LOUTS?
Beware of sports tout services bearing gifts. Sportswriter Mike DeCourcy found that out when working on a story on touts for The Pittsburgh Press. DeCourcy phoned Regional Sports of Fort Lee, N.J., which offered in an advertisement in the Press to reveal, free of charge to anyone who called, its choice of the winner in an upcoming football game. Greg Torre of Regional Sports tried to sell DeCourcy his firm's entire list of picks for the weekend for $225, but when DeCourcy refused, Torre gave him the one freebie: the New York Jets over the Seattle Seahawks.
The Jets won, and a few days later Torre called DeCourcy back. "We have three games going Sunday that are sure winners," Torre told him. "On two of them, we bought a little inside information. I think they're fixed." The cost was again $225, and DeCourcy declined.
"Let me ask you something," Torre said. "Does your boss know you gamble? I think I might have to let him know. You come in, you get a free pick and you don't want to do any business. It's wrong."
When DeCourcy reminded Torre that the ad said the pick was free, Torre said, "I think I'm going to have to get a little stupid about it. My manager's going to come down on me, and now I'm going to have to come down on you. I don't want to get into anything with the IRS, but I might have to inform the authorities you're a known gambler. You think about it. I'll call you back tomorrow, the next day and every day until Saturday."
Torre denies that he threatened to involve the IRS, and he says his assertion that the game was "fixed" was only tout jargon for a betting line that seems out of whack. He never did call DeCourcy back because, he says, "I figured he was a dead fish." Torre also maintains that DeCourcy called for several free picks. DeCourcy dismisses that accusation, saying, "I didn't make any of it up. I didn't have to."
FOR WASHED-UP ATHLETES
The notion of cleaning and dirtying your clothes at the same time might seem a little strange, but business has been booming ever since Clean and Lean opened five months ago in Vista, Calif., 18 miles north of San Diego. Clean and Lean, believed to be the first Laundromat/fitness center anywhere, is owned and operated by the Trabert family. Lois Trabert, who first had the idea, her husband, Donald, their sons Donald Jr. and Greg, and Greg's wife, Dee, take turns overseeing the cycles—wash, rinse and exercise.
Clean and Lean has 24 washing machines. 11 dryers, 12 aerobic workout sets and 5 stationary bikes, as well as tanning booths and electronic massage boards. "I'd say 50 percent of our customers do both, 25 percent just wash and 25 percent just work out," said Dee while the joint was jumping at 8 a.m. on a recent Saturday. A one-time visit to the fitness center costs $3.50, and you can get a month's pass for $29.90.
Bertie Marah, a 48-year-old artist, works out every day and does laundry twice a week at Clean and Lean. "It's a really neat concept," she says. "It beats sitting in any old Laundromat reading a trashy novel."