We’ve been on holiday break for a while and a lot of stuff has piled up on the buffet table. So, pop in another slice of wheat toast, fill the coffee mug to the brim and let’s scramble:
‘You can’t tell the players without a scorecard!’ used to be the bark of stadium and arena program sellers way back in the day when buying a scorecard for a quarter and a stub pencil to make notes for a nickel was vogue. Today, you really do need a scorecard to tell who’s who with Covid depleting rosters in every game in the NBA, NHL, NFL and college football and basketball. Players are called up from the JV on an hour’s notice; starters sidelined; some teams don’t even have enough players to suit up, forcing game cancellations or back-ups getting big time minutes. It’s a mess. The dilemma for each league is to continue this way, pray things get better, or blow the whistle and take a very long timeout hoping soon for normalcy? There really isn’t a right or a wrong answer. Spectator ticket values are diluted with sub-par talent while sportsbook operators are pulling out whatever hair they have left trying to balance betting odds and encourage wagering that properly reflects the level of competition, or lack of. With no final Covid buzzer in sight, this new look to our games will unfortunately be the norm. Get used to rooting for your favorite teams and not being able to tell the players without a scorecard. It will be that way for a while.
‘Here’s lookin’ at you.’ I want to be able to say that Monday afternoon and mean it. For the fourth time in a little over a year, I will have surgery on my left eye. As some of you know, 14 months ago I snuck up from behind on our then four-year-old skittish chow mix and surprised him. Deuce’s immediate reaction was to snap his head at me, mouth open, lacerating my lower left eye lid. Emergency surgery to get it reattached and then two subsequent repairs has the lid still looking like I was on the wrong end of a scrap, but more or less intact. Defying all odds, Deuce celebrated his fifth birthday three months ago. Since the mishap, my eyesight is hampered. I can see fine out of my right eye, but my left eye is stuck and won’t rotate downward. Together they don’t function like yours do. Climbing up and down a staircase is an adventure. I see two golf balls and it’s a roll of the dice I can actually hit the real one. At the gym I regularly bump into exercise machines and large breasted women, not that there’s anything wrong with that. I can read with readers but unless it’s right in front of me, my distance vision is like a flash-cube just went off. Some of you might even remember those: scattered lights everywhere, except I really never regain focus. After almost eight months of contradicting opinions, the consensus being I’ll never retain ‘normal’ vision again, I found a Las Vegas surgical ophthalmologist, Dr. Adam Rovit, who believes as a result of the trauma from the injury and resulting surgeries, I have a torn or detached muscle in my left eye that’s preventing normal eye movement. Dr. Rovit recommended surgery; Andi quickly made the appointment. He can’t guarantee results, but he thinks it might be the solution. Dr. Rovit and I played golf together three weeks ago. His scorecard resembled Nevada desert temperatures in late June. As we finished, Doc assured me he is a much better surgeon than golfer. I can only hope so, Dr. Rovit, I can only hope.
Never say never if you’re the NFL. In 2003 the NFL rejected a television commercial from the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority promoting Vegas as a destination during the Super Bowl XXXVII broadcast. The League’s powers-that-be thought it was too racy and they needed to stay away from gambling and temptations. In 2015 the League canceled a fantasy football convention scheduled for a hotel on the Strip, reinforcing that it wanted nothing to do with Vegas. Two years later, that same NFL leadership approved the Oakland Raiders move to that same city that was previously taboo. Coming full circle in the relationship, the 2022 Pro Bowl and NFL Draft will be in Vegas over the next few months: the Pro Bowl at the Raiders’ Allegiant Stadium on February 6 and the Draft over the fountains at Bellagio in April. And then came the official announcement two weeks ago the 2024 Super Bowl has been awarded to that great bastion of sin. Face it, there’s not a better place to host the Super Bowl. Welcome to the big time Vegas and welcome to reality NFL. It looks like this will be a long, rewarding partnership for all parties, not the least of which being football fans.
And for those of you who can’t wait to make a wager on the 2024 Vegas Super Bowl, Stations Casino is now accepting bets with the AFC as a one point favorite. No kidding.
Alabama and Georgia will square off for the college football championship next Monday. They played a month ago in the SEC championship game which Alabama won fairly easily, 41-24. Despite that, the oddsmakers have Georgia as a field goal favorite in the rematch. In the NFL, Green Bay and Kansas City are the respective conference favorites to reach the February 10 Super Bowl in LA. If that’s the match-up my favorite handicapper, Joe Asher, makes Green Bay a two-point choice everyone being healthy. That is the big IF.
And speaking of Alabama and Georgia, our coffee next Sunday will be enjoyed en route to Indianapolis for the national championship game. When this college football season opened on September 4, Medjet partner, colleague and Alabama alum Mat Whatley took a group of six of us to the ‘Bama-Miami opener in Atlanta. Following the game, Mat told us this season will end with an Alabama championship and committed the same group — his two sons-in-law Lawrence and Farra, my son Scott, my nephew Kyle and me to be his guests for the National Championship game next Monday night. Roll Tide.
The Strip hotel that really ushered in today’s Las Vegas is swapping its trademark volcano for a guitar. Hard Rock just purchased the operations of The Mirage for over a billion dollars. They will totally renovate the property that was first opened by Steve Wynn in 1989 on the former site of The Castaways. Millions of people over the years have stood on Las Vegas Blvd and watched the volcano explode. It was the hotel that gave us 3,000 rooms, Danny Gans and Siegfried and Roy. It was the property that taught us nothing was impossible when it came to dollars and tourism and spun off so many other innovations on the Strip. The deal is expected to close in early ‘22 and the Hard Rock guitar will be strumming shortly afterward.
And lest we forget to wish a happy 75th birthday to the Flamingo, the hotel-casino that started it all turning U.S. Highway 91 into the Las Vegas Strip. Mobster Bugsy Siegel opened the Flamingo on December 26, 1946. It’s also the last time the joint had a paint job.
Ever since the Flamingo opened, hundreds of show business legends have graced Vegas stages. However, the city never had a pro sports legend because up until five years ago, the city never had a professional sports franchise. That changed when the NHL awarded Las Vegas the Golden Knights in 2017. It’s goalie, Marc-Andre Fleury, quickly became legend in this town not only for his on-ice ability, including three career Stanley Cups while playing in Pittsburgh, but also for his community presence away from the rink. Always with a smile, always giving his time and even though he was in his late 30’s, still one of the best at his craft. The Knights, in a salary cap dump, sent him to Chicago this summer. The city was crushed. And still is. Fleury returns this weekend wearing Blackhawk colors. That object you’ll see flying in the sky about 7 pm Pacific on Saturday night will be the roof being blown off T-Mobile Arena when Fleury takes the ice.
Last night the Minnesota Wild and St. Louis Blues had no choice. They had to be at Target Field in Minneapolis playing the NHL’s outdoor Winter Classic. The people I really question were the other 38,619 who paid to sit in temps nine degrees below zero, a 24 below wind chill, and watched it. Cuckoo is way too kind. I would have been out of there right after And the rockets’ red glare, my earliest exit ever, in the car with the heater blowin’ as high as it could and then some. Ten goals were scored in the game, St. Louis won 6-4, with both goalies way too frozen to move. Crazy.
If you are headed to Vegas, did you know you can no longer fly in to McCarran International Airport? McCarran officially became Harry Reid International Airport on December 17, ten days before the senator who served Nevada for over 30 years passed away. Not changing is the LAS airport code.
According to the Oxford Dictionary, to nobody’s surprise, the 2021 Word of the Year is ‘vax.’ It succeeds the 2020 word which was ‘lockdown.’
Is anyone enjoying Kamala Harris’ stint as VP more than Dan Quayle?
Last Thursday, December 30, was a hall of fame birth date. Sandy Koufax turned 86; Tiger, 46 and LeBron celebrated his 37th. Not bad birthday company.
This politically correct world we live in has gone bat shit crazy: no longer can you refer to it as the ‘master’ bedroom. Now it’s the ‘main’ bedroom.
38% of this country is still unvax’d. That’s just stupefying. It’s time to turn up the public health and socialization pressure even higher and make it law—no vax, no fly.
And speaking of flying, in spite of the pandemic, millions are on the go. Just ask the telephone operators at SMC sponsor Medjet. Around the globe, Medjet members are on holiday. However, some travelers are not as fortunate as most, the victims of accident or illness. If you are traveling anytime soon, please go to Medjet.com and take a look at the program and benefits. It’s a membership you hope you’ll never use but one you’ll be glad you have.
What we really needed to do to fight the pandemic is whatever seems to be working for North Korea. According to Kim Jong Un, his country has no cases of Covid. In fact, they never have.
Chilly temps last week let me get caught up with movies I wanted to see. Gucci, aside from the tremendous performance by Lady Gaga, was meh. I really enjoyed Being the Ricardos. I was too young in the 1950s to appreciate the Lucy and Desi backstory. Nicole Kidman, who played Lucy, actually took up smoking after landing the part to try and replicate Lucy’s raspy voice. The original West Side Story, among my all-time favorites, has been recreated under the Spielberg banner. Rita Moreno is the constant between the 1961 original and the new release which, in one word, is terrific. See it when you can.
On television I finally gave in to the hype and watched Ted Lasso. I thought it was okay but my no means all-that. Two documentaries, both a little over an hour, which debuted last week are worth a look. On HBO and HBO Max, if you were a fan of Officer Judy, Super Dave Osborne or Marty Funkhouser or any of the other roles played by the late Bob Einstein, you will really enjoy ‘The Super Bob Einstein Movie’ on HBO. Very funny. Also, just three days before his death last Tuesday, FOX premiered the ‘All Madden’ doc which is now streaming on Peacock. John Madden, in many ways, revolutionized televised football after retiring from coaching at the incredibly young age of 42. Mr. Madden, 85, and his family got to watch the film together on Christmas Day.
It was only a matter of time before the ineptness of the New York Jets wore off on their MetLife Stadium co-tenants. The New York football Giants have proven they can’t win with Joe Judge as their head coach and Daniel Jones as their quarterback. In fact, they’ve almost hit bottom with a 4-11 record going into today, the same record as the woeful Jets. So, this week the New York football Giants, in very Jets’ like fashion, announced they will retain Joe Judge as their head coach and Daniel Jones as their quarterback for 2022.
The Nevada Department of Public Safety has granted an early parole discharge to O.J. Simpson for his 2007 conviction for armed robbery and kidnapping. Simpson served 10 years before being released in 2017 and placed on parole since. Now that has ended, too. That’s good news for the Juice is he’ll now be able to run around, play golf and carouse in Vegas. Same as he did while he was on parole.
Maybe white men can’t jump, but Jews sure can hoop. Yeshiva University, a Division III college basketball program in Upper Manhattan, had the longest winning streak in the country, 50 straight, snapped Thursday by Illinois Wesleyan.
This was supposed to be the final installment of Sunday Morning Coffee. After seven years, I thought it was time to give it a rest. However, the more people I told about the decision, the more who encouraged me to keep it going. So, SMC will continue but we’ll reduce the frequency to about twice a month. Thanks for the support, comments and even the criticism when deserved.
Happy New Year and hopefully here’s lookin’ at you in ‘22.