If you fly into Las Vegas and check luggage you no doubt remember how slow the baggage claim process is. You can sit and watch Casino, including the credits, before the carousel gets moving. The airport just announced a $31 million federal grant to replace the existing baggage infrastructure which hasn’t been updated since Joey Bishop headlined at the Sands. When Andi read it in the morning paper her comment was “It’s not nearly enough.”
And when you finally get your bags and are off to see Awakening at the Wynn the good news is ticket sales are so slow you can now finance your $150 seat in four easy payments. Better see it quickly. It sounds like Awakening will be taking a permanent nap pretty soon.
As a kid growing up with New York sports in the mid-1960s, we couldn’t really appreciate that we had three of the coolest guys ever to put on a uniform playing in front of us every day: Joe Namath, Walt Frazier and Joe Pepitone. Joe Pep left us on March 13 at age 82. Joe Willie (79) and Clyde (77) are still going strong and still really cool.
And a punch to the gut for Knicks fans in that same era with the passing of our captain, Willis Reed on Tuesday at 80. Reed, Frazier, Dave DeBusschere, Bill Bradley and Dick Barnett gave us the greatest season ever in 1969-70.
Speaking of cool, happy 96th birthday to Harry Belafonte. Daylight come and we want go home.
Loved Oscar winner Jamie Lee Curtis on Twitter calling out Cold Play, Springsteen and U2 to play concerts at 2 in the afternoon so we can all be in bed at 7:30 pm, our regular time.
For the next lull in cocktail party conversation try this: Nigeria is Africa’s most populous country.
Remember, not so long ago, how innovative it was, we thought, calling a hotline for the time and temp?
The plan was perfect. For me anyway. When Stevie Nicks announced she was coming to Vegas, Andi said she wanted to go. I didn’t. I bought her a premium ticket and told her we will go down to the Strip for dinner, she can go to the show at T-Mobile Arena, and I’d kill time in a casino. So, last Saturday night after dinner at New York-New York, I walked her to the arena, told her to enjoy, call me during the encore and we’d meet on her way out. I went over to the ParkMGM, watched the Alabama basketball game and was as happy as a Fairleigh Dickinson alum. A half hour later, enjoying a martini and ‘Bama building a 12 point lead, she texts me. “The show hasn’t started yet but I sure wish I had a piece of gum.” Really? I always carry gum with me but what was I supposed to do now? I’m in a bind. Blow it off and run the risk of her whining the rest of the weekend. That would be painful. The arena was right across the plaza from the casino. What the hell, in the name of peace and money that undoubtedly would have been lost at a blackjack table, I headed over to the T-Mobile box office and asked if they had a single ticket and please make it as cheap as I could get. They did. It was $60 and the seat view was like watching from the top of the Stratosphere. I bought it. Andi was in an aisle seat almost next to the stage with 15,000 other Stevie fans who apparently brought their own gum with them. I tapped her on the shoulder. She didn’t look up but immediately put her phone away thinking it was security telling her she couldn’t video. I handed her the damn $60 piece of Extra Winterfresh. I walked away and found an empty seat not too far from her. The 75-year-old Nicks can still sing. Close your eyes and it was 40, 50 years ago. She did almost two hours, emptying her whole portfolio including Fleetwood Mac hits. Andi enjoyed it. Actually, I did too. And just for the heck of it, on the way home I chewed a piece of gum.
Three weeks ago, the same building was the site of a UFC card that featured the heavyweight championship, Jon Jones vs. Ciryl Gane. If you’ve never been to an Ultimate Fighting Championship show, it’s nothing like you might imagine. First of all for entertainment value, the prelims began at 2 in the afternoon with the main event hitting the ring about 9:30 pm; you’re not shorted for value. The crowd is young and hip. Average age for a Vegas visitor is 41 and a majority of the 20,000 packed into the building reflected that. Very upscale clientele. The presentation of the show: lighting, sound, colors and coordination rivals just about any other production on the Strip. On this night, there were scenes from an upcoming remake of Roadhouse, starring Jake Gyllenhall, which was being filmed in the octagon in-between bouts. The crowd went wild. Our seats, nice location, were about $900 each, certainly not for the faint of wallet. Fortunately, they were courtesy of my nephew Robby, an Instagram influencer aka Brilliantly Dumb, aka Bob Does Sports. The arena percolated to a boil when the main event came into the ring. It had every bit of a boxing heavyweight championship feel. Unfortunately, the main event was over in a couple of minutes courtesy of a Jones TKO, but walking out we didn’t feel at all shorted by the brevity. If you ever get the chance, I’d put in in the recommend column.
And it was back to T-Mobile on Thursday night for the first ever NCAA basketball tournament game played in the state of Nevada. UConn-Arkansas and UCLA-Gonzaga were the Sweet 16 pairings for a state that was always ignored by the NCAA because of its legalized sports wagering. Now betting on games is all over the place so the NCAA finally can get its fingers into the Vegas entertainment dollar pie under the guise that gambling is really okay after all. It was a fun night capped by Gonzaga’s last second victory. The Final Four is heading here, its rightful place, in 2028.
I’m a proud University of Miami alum, financially supporting the school and its journalism program. I still have season football seats but haven’t been to a home game in a decade. Just my way of putting a few dollars into the kitty. I never had much affinity for basketball primarily because they didn’t play while I was in school. The program was disbanded after the 1970-71 season for lack of money, support and an on campus arena. The men’s team was resurrected in 1985. This weekend Miami hoops has us smiling. Both the men and women have reached the Elite Eight and knocked off number one seeds en route. It may not last beyond the games today, but it’s been fun wearing the colors again.
I don’t bet on individual tournament match-ups but did take three teams to win the whole thing next weekend in Houston. Very scientific too. I had Alabama at 8-1, because we lived there for 20 years and adopted the Tide. Kansas at 9-1 because my son Jason is an alum. And Miami at 50-1, well, because it’s the U. I figured at the very least I would have Alabama and Kansas, maybe both, in the Final Four and have a real shot. Now, it’s Go Canes.
How about Conference USA, the prototypical mid-major in college hoops, landing its top three teams in a Final Four. C-USA’s champion FAU, in spite of overwhelming odds against, will be dancing on the big floor next Saturday. Meanwhile UAB and North Texas, the leagues second and third best, are both in the NIT Final Four which plays Tuesday out here at the Orleans Arena. Pretty impressive for an otherwise mediocre league.
Last Sunday when Fairleigh Dickinson and Florida Atlantic played their very improbable round of 32 NCAA tournament game in Columbus, Ohio, there were 19,500 fans on hand. Had that game been played earlier this season, in November or December, in either home gym- FDU in Madison, NJ or FAU in Boca Raton- there wouldn’t have been 900 who cared enough to come out and watch two no-names.
Does any team in professional sports have less panache than the NHL’s Columbus Blue Jackets?
The apocalypse is officially upon us: the Detroit Lions are favorites to win the NFC North.
I cashed in on a very successful over/under winter wagering season. In the NBA my two plays- Orlando and Charlotte- were easy winners. Last night the Vegas Golden Knights, the NHL’s best team over the last month, gave me the hat trick beating Edmonton to hit 98 points for the season, surpassing the 96.5 I needed. Red hot, I ran over to our local sportsbook to get my baseball plays posted — the Pirates won 62 games last year but with a good crop of young guys maturing and the addition of veteran leadership, namely the return of Andrew McCutchen, the posted number for the upcoming season is 67.5. It’s probably a little inflated but this team can win 70 and they are my big ‘over’ play for the season. I also took a flyer on Texas, loaded with experience and a darn good manager in Bruce Bochy to go over 80.5. And the wise guys at my gym who do this for a living love Kansas City to be awful, thus under 69.5.
I hadn’t played golf in almost five months. The last score I posted was on October 30. A combination of a lot of things, mainly cold weather and synagogue commitments that are never ending keeping me inside and off the course. Last Saturday was my 2023 coming out. I should have stayed home. Score aside, it was a terribly humiliating and expensive day. I’ve visited a multitude of vision specialists since November 2020 when Deuce took a bite of my left eye for a snack which also limited my playing. Since then I have seen optometrists, ophthalmologists, retina specialists, neuro-ophthalmologists and oculoplastic surgeons. A total of six in both Vegas and LA. One of them, an ophthalmologist/surgeon, is an occasional golf partner and we played together last weekend. Am I wrong in assuming, no matter how shitty a golfer, that at the very least an eye specialist could see straight? His name isn’t really that important. Dr. Adam Rovit. We were on the twelfth hole, a par three. Pin is about 160 yards straightaway. My golf cart is parked on a 45 degree angle, maybe 15 yards from the tee box. Somehow, this master of sight, slices his tee shot right into my cart, which fortunately was vacant, smashing into my fixed plastic tray which holds balls, tees, markers, all the essentials, into more pieces than a box of Ronzoni. If it were a rental cart, I wouldn’t have cared, but this was my personal cart. If I had been sitting in the cart, at the speed and angle the ball struck, I would have been dead or carried away bloody. We did have a nice group chuckle at how terrible the shot was and it’s a good thing I was out of the cart. That wasn’t the end however, in fact just the beginning. As I pulled away to drive to the green, the tees, the balls, the markers et al came pouring out of the mangled tray like showtime at the Rainforest Cafe. It all fell onto the cart floor, the ground and into a half full coffee cup. I recouped what I could, put them into the tray that wasn’t smashed on the other side and continued. Two holes later, I took my range finder, aka golf course binoculars, and without thinking put it back into the damaged tray. As I drove down the fairway and approached the 14th green, the range finder came flying out of the tray that had no walls and hit my foot. When I realized what happened I went back on the fairway to try and find it. No luck. However, in the process my brake jammed, it wouldn’t move, and I couldn’t stop the cart as I headed back to catch-up with the group already on the green. I tried to control it but slammed into a tree. At that point the broken tray was the least of my worries. Somehow I untangled the cart from the tree by putting it in reverse and started rolling backwards. Because the brake was jammed it wouldn’t stop until it hit something, in this case ricocheting off another cart parked by partner Stuart Mann. Now the damage started to parlay and I’m not embellishing any of this. One of the sand containers snapped off my cart from the blow into the tree. The seat dislodged after careening backwards into Stuart’s cart and wouldn’t release. It was pinned forward almost into the steering wheel. Prying the cart free it still drove, but I had to hug the wheel like a 90-year-old cruising down I-95 in Fort Lauderdale at 35 mph. The roof also came apart on one end and the rear view mirror was spinning like a pinwheel. The guys encouraged me to abandon my cart and finish the round riding with one of them. Truth is I gave a shit less about continuing the round. I just wanted to move the cart forward so I could get it back home, about two miles away. The accelerator worked but the brake was totally jammed. The only way I could stop was to gently tap into one of the other carts, the curb, heaven forbid another tree or just wait and crawl to a stop. Our course is hilly so there were a couple of routes on the cement cart paths where with no brakes, gravity took the cart like it was on the fourth turn at TalIadega. Eyes closed, steering wheel gripped tighter than the midway point of a prostate biopsy and prayers hoping my stint as a temple president paid dividends from above. It continued that way for two more holes, gradually getting closer to home and playing shots when I could actually stop. Then, as I continued to pump the brake hard and fruitlessly, I looked down and behind it I saw a strange object. The range finder that bounced off my foot didn’t leave the cart after all, instead it lodged perfectly behind the brake, jamming it, sight unseen. Well, the other boys had a real good laugh about this. Me, not so much. I did finish, got the cart home and on Wednesday the golf cart ambulance came and picked it up to take it to the golf cart hospital for $941 in repairs. All because of a renowned ophthalmologist, good at what he does, but can’t shoot a golf ball straight. Dr. Rovit, feeling bad but not bad enough to write me a check, offered to buy me an $18 lunch. At least I’m thankful he’s not my urologist.
Finally, happy beginning of baseball season on Thursday. Maybe before July it will actually warm up in the desert.