Yes, this was supposed to be a coffee-free Sunday. Last week’s Sunday Morning Coffee was lengthy, there were a bunch of items left over plus stuff that compiled this week. So instead, we’ll scramble today before I catch my flight to not-so-tropical Indy and take our breather next week.
Whoever thought Indianapolis would be a great place for Monday night’s college football national championship game between Alabama and Georgia? I channeled my inner Jim Cantore and went forecast shopping. In Miami on Monday it will be 79 degrees, same as in Tampa. Phoenix will be 71; LA, 69 and New Orleans will just about get to 60. All of these cities have hosted title games in the past. Instead, the NCAA said let’s just stay in our home city of Indianapolis, where Monday’s high might reach 24 and the forecast low is eight, and let the game come to us. It’s no small significance that the host stadium, Lucas Oil Stadium, has a roof. Hopefully, heat too. On television it will look like any other football game. The difference is for those spending big dollars to attend. So many of the pre-game activities are made for outdoors with pep rallies, tailgating and music, making it a big game atmosphere. Instead, all of that is shoved inside some staid convention center with the whole experience becoming as colorless as a Beefeater martini. The area outside the stadium should be packed with Alabama crimson and Georgia red. Instead, bundled fans will flock by the thousands to get inside. These games are made for warmer climes. Let the NCAA basketball tournament in April and the 500 car race in May stay in Indy, springtime is perfect. Just don’t make me shiver in January to and from the game, without the festive atmosphere, when we could be in LA, Houston, Vegas or Miami, sites of the game over the next four years.
The rest of the country is probably sick of another Southern football match-up but ‘Bama and Georgia proved in the semifinals they were the best of the bunch. Despite the licking Alabama put on Georgia last month in the SEC championship game, Georgia is a three point favorite tomorrow night. Probably on paper they deserve to be. However, Alabama doesn’t lose too many games on paper or as an underdog. If I can get ‘Bama and the points, I can’t let that go. For me this trip will be Roll Tide and staying warm and not necessarily in that order. Indianapolis in January. Ridiculous.
If you’re the betting kind, the first bad beat of 2022 happened to People Magazine whose January 10, 2022, cover celebrated Betty White’s 100th birthday. Ms. White died on December 31, 2021, at 99.
Also, rather grimly, if you bet on under 999 gun-related homicides for Cook County, Illinois in 2021, your ticket is worthless. Last year there were 1,002 people shot to death in the county that also includes Chicago, 121 more than 2020. Alarmingly, it was also double the amount from 2019. And it’s not just Chicago: Philadelphia, Portland, Louisville and Albuquerque also had their deadliest years on record in 2021.
One last wagering note proving sometimes miracles do happen. I actually had a winning football season with my over/under wagers. In college football, even though Kansas and UNLV only won two games each, that was more than enough for me to cover their line of 1.5 season wins. The NFL was mixed: I was way off on Cincinnati under 6.5 wins; they already have 10. I countered that with the Las Vegas Raiders over 7.5 wins and they have chalked up nine. All in all, three out of four. I’ll take it.
The Raiders have had an interesting season. With a win tonight over the Chargers they will actually go to the playoffs. The Raiders started the season 3-0, fell back to 6-6 and then got thumped 48-9 by Kansas City a month ago, which everyone figured was the end of their season. Then three straight wins, two of which were against second and third string quarterbacks via Covid, putting them in a position with a win tonight and they are in the playoffs. It’s also a season that started with running back Josh Jacobs falling asleep at the wheel and ramming his car into a highway tunnel wall; head coach Jon Gruden fired after the discovery of some sophomoric, racist emails sent ten years ago; wide receiver Henry Ruggs beyond legally drunk, getting his car up to 156 mph before killing a young woman and her dog; then the outright release of cornerback Damon Annette after a video of him brandishing a gun and threatening another person popped up on social media. If that wasn’t enough, and it should have been, last week another cornerback, rookie Nate Hobbs was found at 4 am inside of his vehicle parked on the ramp of a hotel-casino parking garage. Once awakened he failed a field sobriety check. Because he fell asleep and seemingly didn’t have a chance to drive off and kill himself or someone else, the Raiders see it perfectly okay if he plays tonight. For shame. None of these guys learn. Raiders quarterback Derek Carr has said over and over again he tells his teammates if they can’t drive, and don’t call Uber or Lyft, call him and he will gladly take them home. Raiders interim head coach Rich Bisaccia, a career special teams coach elevated after Gruden was fired, who 10% of the time coaches like Lombardi and the other 90% like Rich Kotite, deflected responsibility and inferred part of the problem was “we are very cognizant of the city in which we live in.” No coach, that’s not it. It has nothing to do with Las Vegas. Your players are just morons.
That very same city has been home to the Vegas Golden Knights of the NHL for the past five years. Never once has one of its players wound up in the law enforcement penalty box. Coincidence? No way. Character? Plenty of it.
Arguably one of the longest, if not the longest, winning streak in American history was snapped last year as Toyota passed General Motors as the country’s top-selling car company. GM had been king of the road since 1931.
A streak that is very much intact is Amy Schneider’s 28 straight wins on Jeopardy!
Political correctness has me at the edge of the couch anxiously awaiting the February 2 name change announcement of the Washington Redskins to ?? I actually like what they are now calling themselves: the Washington Football Club. It gives a bit of English Premier League elegance to an otherwise classless franchise.
After visiting New York last month I’m confused why NYC street corner newsstands are still called newsstands. Fact is you can buy candy, chips, chewing gum, cigarettes, aspirin, sewing kits, soda and even condoms at any of them, but go ahead and try finding newspapers or magazines on the racks. If you’re a throwback news junkie looking for a Daily News, Post or New York Times, good luck.
Tuesday was a very sad day for me. I lost an old, dear and cherished friend. I honestly didn’t even know they were around anymore. Though we haven’t been in touch, literally for years, nevertheless the memories made it hurt badly. The BlackBerry Classic and its baby, the Curve, were put to rest and officially turned off by its heartless parent, BlackBerry Ltd, originally known as Research in Motion. Hitting the market in 2000 and at its peak in 2011 the company sold over 52 million handsets. In a coma since 2014, now they are gone. The plug has been pulled. Damn, how I loved that thing. Maybe even more depressing is the realization that today’s kids have no idea what a BlackBerry was nor the impact it has on their lives today. I still have mine tossed somewhere in a storage box of memories. RIP CrackBerry.
I got this from former college broadcast partner and longtime friend Roy Firestone. Ted Cassidy, who played Lurch in the 1964 television series The Addams Family, was a newscaster on WFAA radio in Dallas on November 22, 1963. The 6’9” Cassidy was the first newsman to report that President Kennedy was shot. He stayed on the air for 11 hours. I never knew that.
Firestone also made me laugh this week during his Roy Firestone Live on Facebook. He called John Madden, with his physique and mannerisms, “the Ralph Kramden of professional football.” Funny line. The difference being while Kramden could never ‘hit that high note’, Madden did over and over again.
Select airports around the country are now experimenting with a reservation system to get through airport screening. Seattle has made it permanent. LA, Dallas and Newark are testing the procedure in select terminals. For those who are not members of TSA PreCheck or Clear, you can book a 15 minute security clearance window 72 hours in advance of your flight, get a QR code sent to your phone and theoretically zip ahead of all the pedestrian slugs in a dedicated clearance lane. Unlike PreCheck and Clear, the reservation system is free.
Two solid hours of feel-good was the Carole King-James Taylor Just Call Out My Name special that aired on CNN last Sunday night. If you didn’t see it, find it.
That loud collective cheer you heard on Wednesday came from Melbourne, Australia. Specifically the men’s locker room, at Rod Laver Arena, host of the upcoming Australian tennis Open, when the other 255 players in the event found out defending champion and just about unbeatable Novak Djokovic was denied entry into the country and seemingly won’t play in the tournament. Joker was not in compliance with the country’s vaccination ordinances. He tried to skirt it; the authorities said no. Allegedly, he’s holed up in some 8×12, four-bit quarantine hotel room waiting for his appeal to be heard. I’m a Djokovic fan but he had his chance to comply and didn’t. Stay strong, hold your ground, Australia.
For all us kids who wanted to be NBA players when we were growing up but had absolutely no talent, Philadelphia 76ers guard Danny Green made us feel good this past Tuesday night. Green, a fellow Long Islander, started for the Sixers against Orlando. He played 24 minutes, exactly half the game. He scored no points, didn’t have a rebound nor an assist. He took two shots, missed them both and committed one foul. Heck, we could have done that.
If you are excited about the opening of baseball spring training in a month, don’t be. The contract between the players’ union and franchise owners has expired, and the owners have locked the players out of their facilities. There are no ongoing negotiations and word each side is waiting for the other to present a plan. That won’t happen until both parties start to feel the revenue loss. Every year the baseball fan, rightly so, gets more and more frustrated with the game. This is sure to help, huh?
It was fun watching Ben Roethlisberger’s farewell game in Pittsburgh a week ago. What wasn’t fun for the Steelers quarterback’s alma mater, Miami University of Ohio, was when ESPN’s Steve Levy called it the University of Miami. Two very different places.
Finally, thanks to everyone who sent well wishes on my eye surgery last week. It’s very much appreciated. Doc Rovit was able to get through substantial scar tissue from the three previous surgeries and repair some of the muscles that now will allow my left eye to turn downward again and hopefully, regain my full field of vision. Thanks again for the concern and thoughts. It matters.