Good morning! Happy Easter to all those celebrating, and if you are beginning the second day of Passover get rid of that bagel with your Sunday Morning Coffee and stick to the program. How about a tasty piece of matzoh, a schmear of butter and maybe just a bisl of salt? That should bind you up for the next couple of days. Now let’s scramble:
A week ago Wednesday was date night for us in Las Vegas. Andi and I do this once or twice a month. We leave our kingdom of Summerlin and venture the eight or nine miles to the masses. We do go to the Strip regularly for Golden Knights hockey games and when friends are in town, but every now and again it will be dinner and a show. First stop this particular night was the Palm Restaurant in Caesars Forum Shops, a favorite of ours for years. Dinner was good, maybe not what it used to be, but what is? We enjoy sitting outside on the veranda and watching the scenery, especially the Midwestern farmers’ daughters parading by wearing two sizes too small. It makes you feel alright. Then over to the Venetian Hotel to see Foreigner. Great show. Ninety-five minutes. Thoroughly enjoyable. Until the way home. And then things went south. Quickly. Andi Googled the band to see how many originals were left. Not one. The elevator from our high hit the ground floor, hard. What we saw was a cover band but paid premium headliner prices. Two bills a ticket. Andi says we saw Foreigner because they own the rights to the name. Bullshit. We saw a cover band. I will never let it happen again. From this point forward, I will vet every act before buying tickets. Over the next six weeks we have date nights with Lady Gaga, Carrie Underwood and Sting. Safe to assume they’re all still originals and not Frankie Moreno, impersonating. Then we have the Steve Miller Band with Steve Miller, a pre-requisite. And finally over Memorial Day weekend The Eagles, with pretty much everyone still intact. All fit my new strategy. No more Foreigner or pretend-to-be’s for my wallet.
A really bad beat at the Masters was anyone who played under 277.5 total strokes for the winning score. Eventual champion Scottie Scheffler walked up to the par-four 18th tee on the final day with a score of 272. He had a five stroke lead, so the tournament wasn’t in jeopardy. Even if he bogeyed the hole, like he did on two of the three previous rounds, he still shoots 277, good enough for the under. There was little drama when he was on the green, 40 feet from the hole on his second shot. A rather simple two-putt, up and down. Go ahead and cash the ticket. Then all the tension left his game and he lost focus while envisioning getting fitted for the green jacket. He inexplicably four-putted. Posting a total of 278. A huge ouch for everyone with the under.
Time flies too quickly. Happy 77th birthday to Tony Dow, TV’s Wally Clever. Pete Rose marked number 81 and Ali McGraw turned 83. Meanwhile, Shecky Green, one of my comedic favorites and Peter Marshall, the very personable former Hollywood Squares host, both celebrated their 96th last week.
Meanwhile, April has been a sad month for Seinfeld fans. First we lost Estelle Harris, Mrs. Constanza, on April 2 at age 93. Then on Friday the news that Liz Sheridan, Jerry’s TV mom, passed away. She also was 93. That‘s enough. Serenity now.
Here’s one that’s hard to believe. A recent poll conducted by the Pew Research Center said 91% of Americans gave the United States Postal Service a favorable rating. The other nine percent must still mail letters.
Got your second booster shot yet? You can’t ask the same question to the unnamed 60-year-old man from Magdeburg, Germany, who has been vaccinated 90 times. Seems he concocted a scheme where he takes the shot and then sells the forged vaccination cards to those who don’t want to get vac’d. This genius was finally nabbed when he showed up to the same vac center two days in a row. However, word is his sense of taste and smell are better than ever.
There’s no other way to explain it other than HBO is really pissed off about something. They chose the Detroit Lions as the Hard Knocks team for this season.
Mimi Reinhardt died on April 8 at the age of 107. Far from a household name, Ms. Reinhardt’s story is incredible. Born in Austria, she grew up in Poland. When Nazi Germany invaded Poland in 1942 she was captured and sent to the Plaszow concentration camp near Krakow. Her knowledge of shorthand secured her work in the camp’s administrative office where she was ordered to type a list of 1200 Jews who were to be transferred to Oskar Schindler’s ammunition factory at the Brunnlitz labor camp in the former Czechoslovakia. Facing certain extermination at Plaszow, Ms. Reinhardt put her name, and three of her friends, on that list which, of course, Spielberg taught us was Schindler’s List, ultimately saving her life. After WWII, she moved to New York City where she lived for five decades before immigrating to Israel in 2007 where she spent the rest of her wonderful life.
Ever since the Oakland A’s, seeking a new publicly built stadium in the Bay Area, played the ultimate game of chicken with the city of Oakland and announced over a year ago they were considering a move to Las Vegas, I said it would never happen. After losing the football Raiders and the basketball Warriors, Oakland couldn’t be that stupid to let their baseball team get away too, could they? The answer now appears to be a strong maybe. One Oakland city councilman is asking for a referendum before using any public monies for a stadium complex. That’s a surefire loser. Perhaps a bigger issue is the recently formed coalition of shipping-industry groups including Oakland port managers, trucking operators and the dockworkers’ union. They are seeking an injunction on moving forward with new stadium plans at the port citing the loss of valuable dock and freight space and environmental issues, which could delay plans for years. That’s a huge curveball. And now you can sense the frustration in Oakland—their classy mayor, Libby Schaaf, has begun taking social media potshots at Las Vegas as an awful destination for the A’s. The way things are going in Oakland, the Vegas Strip will soon be hopping when the Yankees and Red Sox come to town.
And before we leave the Strip, Formula 1 has announced the Grand Prix will come to Las Vegas in November 2023 with a portion of the 3.8 mile event over the Strip with F1 cars racing over 212 mph. Locals don’t really see the big deal; it will just be like every other Saturday night on Las Vegas Blvd when the California drivers hit town.
It’s not funny but I did get a laugh out of New York City Mayor Eric Adams exuberance when, after a 30 hour manhunt, subway shooter Frank James was apprehended. “We got him!” Adams exclaimed to the gathered media. Well, of course you did. It always helps when you get an anonymous tip on the perp’s location. It’s especially helpful when that tip came from James himself.
Fifty-two years ago this week, President Richard Nixon signed legislation banning tobacco advertising on radio and television. The last television ad ran on the Johnny Carson Show on January 1, 1971.
And you thought federal infrastructure legislation takes a while to pass? Two weeks ago President Biden signed into law a bill that makes lynching a federal hate crime. The bill was first introduced in 1900 and only failed 200 times before finally passing.
I’m not sure why this time investors suppose it will work because it never has before, but once again spring professional football is back. This time a new league with an old name as the USFL kicked-off Saturday. No, not the USFL that lasted three seasons in the mid-80s and gave us Herschel Walker, Doug Flutie and New Jersey Generals owner Donald Trump who led the league into the abyss with some foolish financial and legal advice. This is a new league, owned by Fox Sports, that will play 10 games with NBC and Fox holding co-broadcast rights. Why some think it will work this time when spring football never has before remains the mystery. Eight teams make up the roster with some names old time USFL fans will surely remember: New Jersey Generals, Philadelphia Stars, Michigan Panthers, Pittsburgh Maulers, Birmingham Stallions, Houston Gamblers, New Orleans Breakers and the Tampa Bay Bandits. However, if you live in any other city than Birmingham, don’t plan on taking the kids to many home games. All the games will be played in the Alabama city as a year-one cost savings measure. All of the teams will headquarter, live and practice in Birmingham, never to set their cleats in their home cities all season. Clearly the league is counting on television, not gate receipts, to carry the initial financial burden. The games will be played in the new Protective Stadium, whose main tenant is Birmingham’s D-1 football school UAB who struggle to draw 20,000 a game in a football-mad state. Maybe the Birmingham USFL team will get a few fans but other than players’ families, does anyone think there will be a couple hundred people sitting on the 50 to watch Pittsburgh and Houston even with a $10 walk-in price? Play the under on this being long term.
There have been over 235,000 games played in Major League Baseball history and only 23 of them have been what we know as a ‘perfect game’, 27 batters up and 27 batters down. In fact there hasn’t been one thrown in a decade. So when the Dodgers’ Clayton Kershaw tossed seven perfecto innings on Wednesday in Minnesota facing 21 batters and striking out 13 on only 80 pitchers, LA manager Dave Roberts decided that was enough. He may have cost his ace a place on the very short list of baseball pitching history. Kershaw didn’t fight the decision. Instead he blamed it on the owners and their spring lockout, denying him the extra time he needed to get ready for the season and be able to throw more than 80 pitches in his second outing. The sport and its fans get shorted by baseball once again. Leaving him in for another pitch, three or even 20, however long it took for the Twins to get a base hit or Kershaw to finish the masterpiece, is truly what’s in the best interests of a game that continues to have image problems. This decision didn’t help.
Kershaw being yanked sent chills up the spines of the guys who played in the big leagues in the 50s, 60s and 70s. The way players of today are coddled is something the old timers will never come to terms with. The day after Kershaw was pulled I got a note from Yankee legend Bucky Dent who sent me a historical clip about Cleveland pitcher Ray Caldwell. On August 24, 1919, making his debut for the Indians, oops Guardians, Caldwell, who started the game, got struck by lightning on the pitcher’s mound in the ninth inning only one out away from a complete game. That was in the days when pitchers threw as many innings as they wanted to. Nobody ever heard of a pitch count, and if they did, they wouldn’t have paid attention to it. Baseball stayed that way into the late 1970s, maybe early 80s. These days a pitcher has a better chance to be hit by lightning than toss a complete game. The 1919 lightning strike knocked Caldwell down, on his back, and out cold. The other Indians on the field thought he was dead. Then, like in Wrestlemania, the 31-year-old starts groaning, crawls back up on his knees, and gathers enough strength to stand up. He refuses to leave the game. Trying to regain composure, he throws one more pitch, a ground out to third and the win. The baseball press called it an “electrifying performance.” Seventeen days later Caldwell pitched a no-hitter against the Yankees. Dent’s note said, “They don’t make them like this anymore.” Ya think?
With baseball season in high gear, a handful of sadists have asked me whom I played this year for my over/under bets? Last year was a disaster with Cincinnati and under. My money almost turned them back into the Big Red Machine. This season I played for show, and I also played for dough. I put a few sheckles on my favorite show teams, the three I follow: the Yankees over 91.5 wins; the Mets over 88.5 and the Pirates to get at least 65 wins. For the dough I abandoned my lousy handicapping and jumped on Herbie Shainker’s pick of Washington under 70.5 wins. I’m certain my betting them will be enough to put the mush on Herbie’s season-end victory celebration breakfast.
And speaking of Shainker, the subject of last week’s Sunday Morning Coffee entitled When Herbie Talks……, he wanted to make sure I mentioned that last Sunday’s blog produced more comments, 41, than any other over the last four-plus years. Included in the comments was one from Herbie, stating it was his favorite Sunday Morning Coffee ever. In fact, it generated the most comments since August 20, 2017, when Andi guest-wrote about my cinco de bypass two days earlier. Back then SMC was primarily on a Facebook and email platform without a web presence. Herbie is a character, a self-promoter and based upon a large sampling of the responses, an okay guy. To see what people said go to https://royberger.com/sunday-morning-coffee-april-10-2022-when-herbie-talks/
However, the biggest reaction to Shainker betting Washington to lose at least 92 games came from the Ted Werner family who own the Nationals. Last Tuesday, two days after Herbie went public with his season wager, the Werners put the team up for sale. No kidding.
Enjoy Easter. To the fellow members of my tribe, cope with the painful yeast-free unleavened days remaining. Remember that means no bread, no pretzels, no pasta, no pizza, no beer, no enjoyment. We have a writing bye next week trying to regain our strength from not snacking. See you in two.