Okay, after last week’s Sunday Morning Coffee handicapping the 2024 presidential race, I got the message: stay out of politics, we don’t read you for that. So, back into my lane this morning and some things that really matter:
Vehicular property theft is so rampant in San Francisco that car owners are now leaving their doors unlocked at night so the perps can get into a car without breaking the windows only to find out there’s nothing of value to take.
It’s not football season but there were still two bad beats in the last couple of weeks: The guy who paid $518,000 at auction for the ball that was supposed to be Tom Brady’s last touchdown pass on January 23 vs. the Rams. Oops. Then there’s Atlanta Falcons wide receiver Calvin Ridley, a real genius, who, while on injured reserve this season wagered $1500 on NFL games, a no-no with the league’s integrity department. Ridley has been suspended one year without pay. That $1500 cost him $11 million in salary.
If you were a Don Rickles’ fan back in the day, and I was one of the biggest, be sure to watch the Mr. Warmth documentary on Amazon Prime co-produced by his son. It’s terrific.
Do restaurants now have to change their menus from Chicken Kiev to Chicken Kyiv?
Personal politics aside, the performance by senators from both sides of the aisle during the Ketanji Brown Jackson Supreme Court hearings was disgraceful.
I was surprised and proud to learn there are over 4,000 Americans in Ukraine either fighting on the front lines or doing humanitarian work.
Washington Post columnist George Will, a baseball junkie, points out that with all the problems the game has keeping public interest, the negotiations for the new collective bargaining agreement was like a cancer patient saying, “I want to fight this but, first, I want a knee replacement.”
You had to wear your +2.50 readers to find the mention that former Yankees right-hander Ralph Terry died on March 16 at the age of 86. Terry, a two-time All-Star, threw two of the most memorable pitches in Yankees history: if you’re a Yankees fan, one was not-so-good and one very good. He was on the mound against the Pirates and gave up Bill Mazeroski’s walk-off World Series winning home run in 1960. The Yankees stuck with him and two years later, in 1962, Terry led the American League in wins with 23, and was on the hill once again for New York in the bottom of the ninth in game seven of that World Series pitching to Willie McCovey. The Giants slugger hit a sharp line drive into the glove of second baseman Bobby Richardson, sealing the Yankees’ championship. Terry, who pitched a complete game in that decider against the Giants and later played on the PGA Tour after his baseball career ended, was named MVP of the ‘62 Series.
A couple of months ago, January 23, we did a Sunday Morning Coffee (https://royberger.com/sunday-morning-coffee-january-23-2022-a-league-of-your-own/) about Rachel Balkovec, the first female field manager of a professional baseball team. Her debut in the Yankees organization has been delayed a week after she got hit in the face by a batted ball and is sidelined with facial swelling. She’ll miss her team’s first few scheduled spring training games.
Other than the obvious, the fallout from Putin’s invasion of Ukraine might be felt by every soccer fan of Chelsea in the U.K. Russian Roman Abramovich, Chelsea’s owner since 2003, has close ties to Putin and the Kremlin. The U.K. has frozen all his assets including the prized football franchise, which has won 18 major championships during the Ruskie’s reign. The British government will oversee a sale of the club; reportedly among the interested parties is Woody Johnson, owner of the New York Jets. Chelsea backers need to pray for Ukraine and pray that somebody else, anybody else, other than Johnson is awarded the franchise. That punishment would be too cruel.
If this wasn’t so sad, it would be funny. Tennis great Boris Becker, winner of six grand slam titles, has struggled off the court having been convicted of tax evasion in 2002 in his native Germany. Now, he’s so far in the hole in debt, he’s filed for bankruptcy. Becker, who lives in London within walking distance of the All England Tennis Club grounds, is now on trial in the U.K. accused of hiding assets in his bankruptcy filing including: his 1985 and 1989 Wimbledon men’s singles trophies; his Australian Open trophies from 1991 and 1996 and his 1992 Olympic gold medal. Becker, out of prison on bail and facing seven years if convicted, denies all charges. During his career he brought an unmistakable class and elegance to the game offsetting some of the on-court antics of his rivals.
There’s some good news for the recreational tennis player. Rob Carver, a top teaching pro in Atlanta and a good friend, just wrote and published 366 Days Of Tennis-A Tip A Day To Improve Your Game. Pre-sale is now live at Amazon for only $16.99. Grab one. You can thank me after a straight sets win.
You’ll always remember your first one: 68 years ago this week, 1954, RCA began producing color television sets. A game changer for us Boomers adjusting the color on Batman’s and Superman’s capes.
Sleeping with the enemy: Uber, short on drivers and New York City taxicabs, short on riders because of Uber, have made a deal that will allow cabs to become part of the available Uber fleet if they so choose.
From our weekly music department, do you remember the name Tony Burrows? Of course you don’t. Mr. Burrows had the distinction of being a one hit wonder six times, as the lead singer for six different bands that charted in the U.S. top 20 in the late 1960s and early 70s. The Englishman sang lead for the Flower Pot Men and their recording of Let’s Go to San Francisco; Love Grows (Where My Rosemary Goes) for the Edison Lighthouse; United We Stand by Brotherhood of Man; My Baby Loves Lovin’ by White Plains; Gimme Dat Ding by the Pipkins and Beach Baby, fronting for The First Class. Burrows, 79, had no such luck going solo. Only one of his songs crashed the top 100, the very forgetful Melanie Makes Me Smile which hit number 87 in 1970.
If our local NHL team, the Vegas Golden Knights, think things couldn’t get any worse, they need to think again. The Knights were pre-season co-favorites to win the Stanley Cup, but they have been racked with more injuries than a hundred car pile-up in the dead of winter on I-29 in North Dakota. Things are so bad that the Knights are on the outside looking in at even qualifying for the playoffs. So, to try and free some room on the always difficult to understand salary cap ceiling, Vegas traded one of their underachieving players, Evgenii Dadonov, to the Anaheim Ducks on Monday, the last day of the NHL trading deadline. The Knights were satisfied as were the Ducks. Dadanov knew better and never left his Las Vegas apartment. Seems when he signed a contract with Ottawa last season before they traded him to Vegas over the summer, Dadonov specified ten teams to which he would not consider a trade. One of them was Anaheim. Vegas never knew it and if Ottawa did, they never reported it to the Knights. It took a couple of days but the NHL ultimately voided the trade. Dadonov is now back skating for a team that wanted to dump him. He was inserted back into the Vegas lineup on Thursday, received a raucous ovation from the 18,000 on hand and responded with a goal and two assists in an easy win over Nashville. That was only a warm-up for yesterday when he knocked in the Vegas overtime game winner in a come from behind thriller over Chicago. Dadanov is a little miffed with the Knights’ front office but also understands it’s a business and he’s prepared to do all he can to help Vegas make the playoffs. That’s a real pro.
I am a pom-pom waving University of Miami alum but never had much rooting interest in the basketball program. An ardent football and baseball supporter, yes, but when I was in school the U didn’t play basketball. The program was discontinued after the 1970-71 season: they didn’t have an arena on campus and instead, played in a dingy auditorium miles away in Coconut Grove. Attendance was dismal and with Title IX legislation pending, which called for the equalization of men’s and women’s sports, the university just abolished the floundering program. Rick Barry, the best ‘Cane ever to play hoops at the U, disassociated himself from the school. Basketball returned in 1985 and today, as a ten seed in March Madness, plays tournament favorite Kansas for a spot in the Final Four. Today’s game is tuition centric for our family, too — my parents paid tuition to Miami for my brother Mike and me; I paid Kansas tuition for my son Jason. The ‘Canes are coached by 72-year-old Jim Larranaga, one of the five oldest coaches in Division 1 hoops. It’s nice to see the kids relating to and playing hard for him. The road probably ends this afternoon but for what it’s worth— Go Canes!
Sure, St. Peter’s, that small Jesuit college in Jersey City, N.J. has become the darling of March. A school with no national identity except with my former Medjet colleague Larry McGuinness, a beaming alum, who went there when they still shot into peach baskets. Three straight NCAA tournament shocking wins against Kentucky, Murray State and Purdue has put the #15 seed in today’s Elite Eight. A 15 seed has never made it this far. If they beat North Carolina this afternoon they are off to the Final Four. But let’s reduce this to dollars and cents, which is what college athletics is all about, isn’t it? St. Peter’s young, upstart head coach Shaheen Holloway is paid $266,000 a year to lead the Peacocks. Not too shabby except when you consider John Calipari of Kentucky, who fell to Holloway in the first round, makes $8.6 million every 12 months. Murray State, also in Kentucky, was led by Matt McMahon who made $500,000. That’s past tense because he got a promotion after losing to St. Peter’s and was hired by LSU for $2.6m. And Matt Painter, whose been at Purdue for only 17 years and has taken them nowhere in the postseason, is compensated at $3.1 million. That’s $266k of salary topping $12.2 million. Sit tight Coach Holloway, the Brinks will be arriving in a couple of days.
And if you really never heard of St. Peter’s don’t worry, not many people in New Jersey have either. For the Peacocks’ season home opener in November against LIU, there were 434 rabid fans stretched out in the 3,200 seat campus arena.
And finally, a personal moment to brag about my son Scott. He has done something that is almost actuarially impossible. If you read this space regularly you know what a very bad sports gambler I am. However, Scott has taken it to a different level. He is living proof that the apple doesn’t fall very far from the tree. He doesn’t wager on games often but when he does he is bad. Very bad. In fact, Friday was the first day in over 10 months that he actually cashed a winning ticket. Beginning last May 19 with a losing wager on the Lakers right through Friday night when Purdue didn’t cover, Scott had lost 14 straight bets. That’s really hard to fathom. I can validate it because they are all made through my online account. Theoretically, once you pick a side on a wager it’s 50/50 – one side wins, one loses. It’s like losing 14 straight coin tosses or 14 consecutive blackjack hands. It just doesn’t happen. During the 14 bet losing streak Scott’s an equal opportunity loser, too: three times on Alabama football, twice on the Lakers, twice on the Cowboys and single beats on the Golden Knights, Suns, Eagles, Titans, Super Bowl points over, Michigan basketball and Purdue. He makes me look like a sportsbook sharp. Sadly, for my ego, that streaked ended on Friday night when he finally won with North Carolina over UCLA. That’s okay, even in spite of the win, I’m really proud of the lad for hitting a level of wagering ineptness I thought was impossible.