We haven’t scrambled for a while so let’s get started:
Everyone knows Las Vegas can throw a party — just cruise the Strip or visit a hotel nightclub any morning at 2 or 3 am and you’ll see firsthand. But what we found out over the past week is the locals who live here know how to party, too. Understand, living in Vegas doesn’t mean living on the Strip; in fact, just the contrary. Once you leave the pandemonium it is a wonderful town full of civic pride, clean, safe neighborhoods and entertainment and dining options without rival. To us, the Strip is Bourbon Street or Times Square; areas where tourists flock and locals use on occasion when guests are in town, or for a night out every now and again. When our Vegas Golden Knights won hockey’s Stanley Cup on June 13 local pride spilled over the top. The Knights were the city’s first professional franchise, born here in 2017 and successful right out of the crib. The players reveled all last week. The Cup could be seen in more Strip hotels than Rusty Griswold. You could be at Bellagio or Resorts World or Caesars Place and all of a sudden here comes four, five, six hockey players carrying the Stanley Cup through the lobby or casino or restaurants. It made more appearances in local night clubs and lounges than Pete Barbutti back in the day. Truly a celebration of a franchise only six years old, on top of the sport and the world. The victory parade last weekend had a couple hundred thousand lining the mile and a half route from Bellagio to MGM Grand. Then thousands more gathered in the plaza outside T-Mobile Arena for speeches and more celebration. It got a little sloppy with some of the players consuming more alcohol than recommended, and maybe not the best example for kids, but the joy was unmistakable. And the best part was there wasn’t one incident, not one, with law enforcement. Yes Vegas, you know how to throw a party and Las Vegans sure know how to celebrate. Go Knights Go.
Before we melt the ice for the summer, a month ago I wrote about my hockey background and love for the game. For Father’s Day my son Jason put together a scrap book of old ticket stubs I saved from when I was a kid. My first ever hockey game was on October 28, 1961. I was nine. The Long Island Ducks played the aptly named New Haven Blades. The memory is sketchy, but I do remember sitting behind the chicken wire partition at one end of the arena. And a brawl that ensued. Now that we have the date from the ticket stub, archives proved my recollection reliable. The game was highlighted by a stick fight between the opposing coaches. Back in the day of the old minor league Eastern Hockey League, the teams had player-coaches to ease payroll. A stick fight was a duel, with the players using the blades of their sticks trying to carve their initials in the other guy’s face. Barbaric yes, but incredibly entertaining. And all for $2.00. Who wouldn’t have fallen in love with the sport?
My favorite baseball player this season is Kansas City pitcher Jordan Lyles. In fact, the Royals thought so much of the right-hander they signed him last off-season to a two-year deal for $18 million. This, in lieu of the fact the 32-year-old had a career record of 66-90 and a 5.20 ERA. He has played in more places during his 12-year career— Houston, Colorado, San Diego, Milwaukee, Pittsburgh, Texas, Baltimore and now Kansas City— than Springsteen did on his last tour. The Royals may not love him so much anymore, but I do. I have a fairly nice wager on the Royals to win less than 70 games this season. So far they’ve won 22. I will win my bet with great help from Lyles. Going into yesterday against Tampa Bay his won-loss record for the season was 0-11 and Kansas City had lost all 15 of his starts.That is a MLB record for ineptitude starting a season. One baseball writer called him “not only a bad big league pitcher this season but he’s been a bad big league pitcher his entire career.” Yesterday, Saturday, he tried his best to lose again. He gave up four runs in the first two innings against the Rays before the Royals bats came alive, something that hasn’t happened since George Brett, scoring nine unanswered runs. It gave Lyles his first win since last September as an Oriole. Despite that, he’s still is my season wagering MVP with a lot more losses to come.
At what age is too old? Frankie Valli, 89, readies to open a Vegas residency at the Westgate this fall. It will continue next spring through his 90 birthday. It’s a classic example of let’s hang on to what we got.
I wouldn’t have guessed this one. Bud Light is no longer the top US selling beer. That distinction now belongs to Modelo Especial.
Jack Nicklaus, six years younger than Frankie Valli, doesn’t play golf anymore. In fact he hasn’t played in a year. Last May he played four rounds shooting 88, 87, 86 and 84 and gave it up. I’d be ecstatic.
I never had a problem with the PGA golfers who went off to the upstart LIV Tour. It was their choice much like the old days when the ABA rivaled the NBA, the USFL challenged the NFL, and the WHA took on the NHL. All of those alternative leagues wound up, one way or another, combining with their senior counterparts. So, good for both LIV and the PGA that the challenge has led to unification in the sport.
How’s this for top security: an intoxicated man was able to sneak past the Secret Service at 3 am into White House national security advisor Jake Sullivan’s DC home. ADT’s installation number is 866-953-1297.
I’m a self-admitted stickler for typos, a snob, dating back to my journalistic proof reading days. When we visited The Museum of the Jewish People in Tel Aviv a few weeks ago there was this tribute (see picture) to Sandy Koufax on display. The typo is easy to find, but there are also two great inaccuracies on the plaque that only the seasoned baseball fan from the 60s might notice, but probably not. More later.
For those international travelers who enjoy pulling out their passports and reminiscing about places they’ve visited, you’ll never find a passport stamped in Israel. In deference to their visitors, and questions on how they might be received in other Middle Eastern countries, Israel does not mark passports. Instead, you get an entrance slip that you surrender when you depart.
Has anyone seen Melania lately?
Here’s something sad: 40% of Americans are unable to pay for an unexpected $400 expense without taking a loan.
Sure I’m old school when it comes to many things. One of them is the working virtual model that is becoming more and more of our business practices. It wouldn’t have blended with my now antiquated employee/management philosophy.
I didn’t like Ted Lasso from the outset but the more I watched the more I became hooked. The show kept getting better and better. I did like The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel right out of the gate and now sorry to see both shows end. Same for Succession, truly a classic.
Reality shows aren’t my thing but the best reality show in a Boomers’ life had to be our original one: Candid Camera.
Happy birthday to Jerry Mathers. The Beaver turned 75. Hopefully Whitey, Larry and Gilbert brought the cake.
Pitch count? What pitch count? So far this season not one major league pitcher has thrown 120 pitches in a game. Not so for LSU junior hurler Paul Skenes who has tossed 120 pitches in a game three times. And that’s just in the month of June. Skenes, a 6’6” transfer from Air Force, has been the difference for the Tigers reaching the finals of the College World Series this weekend against Florida. With a 1.69 ERA in 123 innings he’ll be the first or second player chosen in next month’s MLB draft. As long as his right arm is still attached.
The Oakland A’s move to Las Vegas is now official but it won’t be for a while. The Tropicana Hotel will be imploded for a $1.5 billion, 30,000 seat stadium on that site to open in 2028. The A’s will have one more season in Oakland and then will need to find a home for 2025-27. Sacramento is a possibility as is Reno. Or they can move to Las Vegas and share the AAA stadium with our Aviators for a few years. Comparing 2023 attendance totals to date, Oakland averages 9,292 fans a game in a 47,000 seat stadium; there are 7,000 on hand each time the Aviators play up here in Summerlin with 10,000 seats.
If you are surrounded by people at a cocktail party and you want to break away, use this: According to Forbes a majority of men in Germany, 62%, urinate most times while sitting. Mexico is at the other end of the curve with only 21% taking it easy. Where is the US? Closer to Mexico at 23%. Urologists recommend men urinate while seated as a more complete way to empty the bladder and avoid prostate or urinary tract infections.
Former big league pitcher Roger Craig died on June 4 at the age of 93. Craig had a long career with the Dodgers, Mets, Cardinals and Phillies, which included three world championships. As a manager for the Padres and Giants he finished one game over .500 with 738 wins and 737 losses. Kids growing up in New York remember him as a pitcher for the Mets during their first two seasons in 1962 and 1963. He started the first game in Mets’ history, an 11-4 loss to St. Louis. His won-loss record was 15-46, going 10-24 in ‘62 and 5-22 the next year. All things considered Craig’s ERA those two years was a respectable 4.00. He got no offensive support, illustrated by throwing 27 complete games in 64 starts. Casey Stengel his Mets manager bafflingly once said, “You gotta be good to lose that many.”
Sandy Koufax was the anti-Roger Craig. The typo from the Tel Aviv museum display is easy to find. The word ‘reverse’ is spelled ‘reverce.’ The inaccuracies are much tougher; if anyone noticed please go right to the bonus round. Game 1 was played on October 6, 1965, not in September as the mock ticket states. October 6 was also the first day of Yom Kippur, the holiest day of the Jewish year and Koufax, the game one starter, chose not to pitch that day in observance of the holiday. The game was played in Minneapolis, not Dodger Stadium as the ticket also indicates. One of the players I profiled in my 2017 book Big League Dream (www.bigleaguedream.com) was the late Jim ‘Mudcat’ Grant who was the starting pitcher for the Twins in Game 1. Grant was eager for the match-up against Koufax and incredibly disappointed when Sandy decided not to play. It also produced one of the best quips in baseball history. The Dodger starter instead was Don Drysdale, no slouch himself. The Twins scored seven runs off Drysdale in a little over two innings and when Dodgers manager Walt Alston came out to the mound to take his big right-hander out of the game Drysdale flipped him the baseball and said, “I bet you wish I was Jewish too.”
Speaking of writing books, if anyone tells you that being an author is not profitable, well I beg to differ. Even though it’s been six years since Big League Dream was published and nine since my first book, The Most Wonderful Week of the Year, the royalties just keep rolling in. On Tuesday I got a check for first quarter sales. Nine books were sold. Why would anyone still buy it? Other than you can’t suppress quality literature, I have no idea. Gross amount of the check: $25.24. A cash cow.
God save the Queen, man.