The Vario Crew

The Vario Crew was one of the Mafia groups. It operated in New York City, United States. This group was founded by the Lucchese Mafia Family and worked under the supervision of Capo-regime Paul Vario. It started working in 1950s and continued till 1980s.

The territory of Vario Crew spread out to different neighborhoods of Queens, Staten Island, Brooklyn, and Long Island. The members usually were made men and associates of the Italian and Italian-American ethnicity. However the actual number of members is unknown.

The Bonanno, Colombo, Genovese and Gambino families were its allies.

The Vario Crew was actively involved in various criminal activities including bookmaking, burglary, cargo theft, cigarette smuggling, conspiracy, drug trafficking, extortion, fencing, gambling, hotel robbery, hijacking, jewelry heist, labor racketeering, loan sharking, and murder.

Paul Vario served as an Underboss from 1969 to 1979. Then in 1984, he got sentenced for 12 years and eventually he died on 3rd May 1988. Vito ‘Tuddy’ Vario took over the crew as an acting boss from 1980 till 1988; he was the younger brother of Paul Vario. From 1988 through 1991, Alphonse ‘Little Al’ D’Arco first served as a Street Boss and then got promoted to Acting Boss. He got arrested in July 1991 and at the end, he became a government witness. From 1991 till today, Domenico ‘Danny’ Cutaia is the current boss.

The Vario Crew carried out their activities from several different places including the Bargain Auto Junkyard, Euclid Taxi Cab Company, Henry Hill’s night club The Suit, Jimmy Burke’s Robert’s Lounge and Kew Motor Inn.

Fantasy Baseball Variations

The types of fantasy baseball games vary greatly because there are so many permutations possible in the basic styles. With the exception of single category leagues, all the other options can be, and are, played with the others in leagues all around the world. Every possible combination of the aspects described in this chapter are used. It’s not uncommon to see a league with a straight draft using players from both the AL and NL and having no keepers. The kinds of leagues that are the focus of this book are pretty much the opposite: single leagues with keepers and an auction draft. To each his own. So, with no further ado, following are the different types of fantasy baseball game variations.

The simplest forms of fantasy baseball are single category games, better known as pools, where people buy in for some denomination of cash, and usually the winner takes all. One that I’ve been part of (at Bobby Valentine’s restaurant in Stamford, Connecticut) is a home-run pool. The goal is to pick any number of players (generally 5 or 10) and get credit for each home run that your players hit throughout the season. It can also be played with wins, saves, stolen bases, hits, runs, or any other stat. This is more or less pure gambling and strictly a game of chance, so I will not spend much time on it.

Advantages of a pool include:

– Very simple to organize.

– One-shot draft; no team management.

– Following your team is not time consuming since the players selected are usually the biggest stars who get the most exposure.

– Easy to administer with a very large group of people.

– A single person can quickly compile the statistics and standings without using a stats service.

Disadvantages of a pool include:

– It’s not especially challenging.

– You have the same players for the whole season.

– The game becomes one-dimensional to you since you’re only looking for your players to do one thing.

– There’s very little interaction between teams throughout the season.

A Bad Night in Vegas: A Boxing Story

His name was Javier Ayala and he was from Los Angeles by way of Tijuana. He had once gone ten rounds with the great Roberto Duran in 1973 in Los Angeles and also went the distance with Leroy Haley. But on this night at the Silver Slipper in Las Vegas, his main event opponent was Bruce Finch whose claim to fame would be that after his 3rd round TKO loss to Sugar Ray Leonard in1982 in Reno, Leonard would have surgery to repair a detached retina.

Coming into the Finch fight, Javier had lost six straight including ones to the very capable Jerry “Schoolboy” Cheatham and Dujuan Johnson as well as to rugged Lou Bizzarro. Arguably, he had become a gate through which prospects must get through before going to the next level.

I was visiting my brother at the time (I had been on assignment in nearby Phoenix and flew in for some R and R), but on this particular July night in 1980 I was alone. After several hours of Black Jack at Bally’s and dinner at Kathy’s Southern Cooking restaurant, I pursued my real interest of the evening which was to watch a young lightweight prospect out of Youngstown, Ohio by the name of Ray “Boom Boom” Manicini. He had won ten in a row and was on the undercard in a eight-rounder against one Leon Smith whom he blew away in the first round with several unanswered body shots to Smith’s liver that you could hear throughout the hall…………I was on the aisle near ringside and they sounded like muffled bombs. I was most impressed and anything else on this particular boxing night would simply be icing on the cake.

Chris Schwenke fought his first pro fight and won a four-round UD over Bill Fallow. He would then go on a 14 fight win streak. There was an uneventful 6-rounder before the Finch-Ayala bout between Danny Sanders and Irish Pat Coffey which Danny won by TKO in the last round. At that point, there was a brief intermission and I remember this young boy of about 9 or 10 years old who then appeared and was standing just to the rear of my seat. I asked him his name and he said he was Javier Ayala’s son. He was very shy and humble. We had a nice exchange and I said I hoped his father would do well. As the fighters walked to the ring, I noticed Javier reach over to pat his son on the shoulder and give him a smile and wink. The fighters were then introduced amidst the usual fanfare and the crowd readied for the main event.

Finch, from Milwaukee, had lost only three fights coming in and these were to the very capable Tommy Hearns, Larry Bonds, and Pete Ranzany. He had won 21 and was touted as having lot’s of pop in his punches. The much younger Finch looked to be in excellent welterweight shape, while Ayala, at age 37, looked just a bit shop worn.

As I torched up my Cuesto Rey……….thankfully, there was no political correctness back in 1980, particularly in a gambling casino……….the fighters received their instructions touched gloves, the bell rang and the fight began. The first two rounds were mostly cat and mouse with both fighters feeling each other out and getting in a few decent shots. Finch threw some neat combinations and seemed to have taken control by the end of round two. In the third round is when it happened. Both fighters were coming out of a clinch and as they set themselves, Ayala moved forward to throw a telegraphed looping right. Finch got there first unleashing a short and vicious right uppercut which hit Ayala at the point of his chin. You could hear the blow back in the gambling area.

Ayala hit the canvas as if he had been hit with a ten gauge shotgun……..and that’s when what started out to be a pleasant evening of manly fun became something else. As he landed on his back, his body hit before his head which then whip sawed onto the canvas. He stayed down as his only handler hovered over him and as ringside officials and the referee quickly went to revive him. He was unconscious and stayed that way for between 15 and 20 minutes without so much as moving a limb. A stretcher was being readied, the crowd was hushed, and a genuine sense of concern permeated. Everyone feared the worse. Finch, while elated with his one punch victory, was visibly concerned. While this was all going on, I glanced over at his son standing in the rear area and I’ll never forget the look on his face or the tears in his eyes. I went over to him, put my arm around him and said “don’t worry, your father will be fine.” He was shaking all over and it was all I could do to keep myself composed.

Finally, after what seemed like an eternity, Javier Ayala arose to scattered applause, but their was palpable relief as well. He left the ring under his own power, albeit unsteadily, and seemed okay. As he was heading for the dressing room, he stopped and took his son’s hand in his own and they both disappeared from sight as they went into the room. The word that best descibes what I witnessed at that moment was pathos……..my overwhelming emotion was one of sympathy and pity.

I never found out exactly what happened to Ayala but I do know that was his last fight. He would finish with a record of 21 wins, 24 losses, and 1 draw. Where he is today or where his son might be remain mysteries that I just as soon not solve. My connection with Javier Ayala has remained deliberately unresolved.

As for Bruce Finch, he would go on to win eleven in a row before being stopped by Sugar Ray in 1982. He would then lose six of his next seven fights before retiring in 1985.

To this day, when I get giddy over some fight or engage in a heated argument over boxing in general and need a reality check, I always think back to that bad night in Vegas………one that would leave me with indelible memories. “In no other sport is the connection between performer and observer so intimate, so frequently painful, so unresolved.” – Joyce Carol Oates