Sunday Morning Coffee — March 3, 2024 — Sunday Morning Scramble

March 2, 2024 Observations 8 Comments

It never worked so well when I grounded my kids. On February 20 the NHL’s Nashville Predators were scheduled to play the Golden Knights in Las Vegas. A few weeks before the game the players asked management if they could fly into Vegas a day early to see U2 at the Sphere. They were given the okay and bought 40 tickets, treating the coaches and staff as well. Five days before the show the Preds played Dallas in Nashville and got run out of their own building with a 9-2 loss. It wasn’t a beautiful day. That’s it boys, you’re grounded. Management canceled the early arrival into Vegas, presumably put the tickets on StubHub, and instead of seeing Bono added an extra practice day. General Manager Barry Trotz told the media the Predators’ standards had slipped below expectations and the fans of Nashville, paying their good money to see the home team, deserved a lot more effort. It worked. Following the Dallas shellacking the Preds have put together an eight game winning streak including an impressive 5-1 win over a very good Colorado team on Saturday night. I wish I had reaped those results with my kids back in the day.

On February 15, the same night Iowa’s Caitlin Clark became the all-time leading scorer in women’s college basketball, another record on the distaff side was also etched into the game’s annals. Lauren Taylor, a 21-year-old senior at Francis Marion University, a D-II school in Florence, South Carolina, hauled down 43 rebounds in an 85-62 win over North Greenville University. Taylor, 5’ 11”, grabbed 30 defensive boards and 13 off the offensive glass in 36 minutes of play. She also scored 34 points; a career high. Lauren is now in the collegiate rebounding record books with Bill Chambers who tallied 51 rebounds with William and Mary in a men’s game in 1953. In the NBA the only two with more than 43 in a game were a couple of giants of the sport — Bill Russell and Wilt Chamberlain. Fine company indeed.

Speaking of Ms. Clark, this afternoon the 22-year-old from West Des Moines, Iowa, will become the all-time leading scorer in both men’s and women’s college basketball history. She needs 18 points against Ohio State to pass Pistol Pete Maravich’s record of 3,667 career points, which has stood since 1970. No disrespect to Caitlin but perhaps two asterisks: first, the ladies’ basketball is smaller than the men’s thus relatively easier to score. However, the biggest caveat is when Maravich played for LSU from 1967-70, there was no three point shot. Despite that, he still averaged 44 points a game. Studies were done, looking at all of Pistol’s made baskets, and consensus is if there was a three point line, he would have averaged 54 points a game or over 800 more career points. Nonetheless, what Caitlin Clark has achieved is truly remarkable.

And one more legendary basketball feat was celebrated 62 years ago yesterday, March 2, 1962 when the aforementioned Mr. Chamberlain scored 100 points in a single NBA game, a record never challenged. The Hershey (PA) Sports Arena, an old hockey rink, was the site with 4,100 in attendance on a cold, rainy night. The arena was half full and with the NBA being a relatively minor sport, most on hand came for the Philadelphia Eagles-Baltimore Colts basketball exhibition prior to the Philadelphia Warriors-New York Knicks game. Some even stayed for the NBA tilt. There was no television broadcast thus no video exists. Incredibly none of the New York newspapers sent reporters to cover the game. Chamberlin, 25, almost didn’t make it either. He spent the previous night in New York, partying until he dropped his female companion off at 6 am. Hungover, he took a train at 8 am to Philadelphia, met some friends for lunch and barely made the team bus to Hershey, 85 miles away. The Alka-Seltzer kicked in right at game time and Wilt became unstoppable. He made 36 out of 63 from the floor and an incredible 28 of 32 free throws despite being a career 50% shooter from the stripe. He scored his 100th point with 46 seconds remaining. Of course there was no three-point shot back then and if there was Chamberlain would still have scored 100. He owned the lane and rarely ventured outside. Gamblers that played the ‘over’ were rewarded with an easy 169-147 Philadelphia cover. The teams played two nights later in Madison Square Garden, Philly won 129-128, but the Knicks got a standing ovation for holding Wilt to only 58 points.

I wish I had taken a picture. Last week, killing some time, I ventured into the Vegas Golden Knights’ store a couple of miles from our house. On the welcome sign it said: “Tonight, VGK vs. Maple Leaves.” I asked the lady at the counter who wrote that? She said she did and asked if there was something wrong. I told her since 1917 they were the Maple Leafs, unless something changed earlier in the day. She immediately took the sign down before I could grab my phone to take a pic. That night the Leaves thwarted the Nites 7-3.

For my son Scott’s last weekend in LA (more on that later) last Friday night he invited me, his brother Jason and bride Cayla to the Lakers game getting tickets from a Laker insider. The seats were the row right behind the San Antonio bench. That was good news and not-so-good news. The good news is the seats were the row behind the San Antonio bench. The not-so-good news is the seats were the row behind the San Antonio bench. Bottom line is you can’t see a damn thing from there unless you look up at the screen. For some reason players find the need to stand for almost every shot and even my wails of “Down in front” were ignored. Then there’s 7’4” rookie Victor Wembanyama. When he stood you couldn’t even see the overhead screen. Impressions? LeBron is really good; Wemby is going to be really good; and, a bit surprising, Spurs legendary coach Gregg Popovich is a very old looking and slow moving 75.

For years, regular readers of this space know I have been touting the merits of a Medjet membership before you travel. I spent 20 years as President/CEO of the Birmingham, Alabama, medical assistance repatriation program, and since retiring Medjet has been kind enough to help underwrite the cost of providing you with this great prose a couple of Sundays a month. I know many readers have become members. Karen Sandell-Stern was a high school classmate of mine back on Long Island in the late 60s. In fact, she was president of our senior class. We really didn’t have much to do with each other in school, nor for the next 45 years afterwards. Then, in part because of Facebook, we reconnected as committee members for our 50th high school reunion, which was a Covid casualty. Karen and her husband Rick became Medjet members. They travel often. I always preach that everyone knows someone who has become sick or injured while away from home and while it might not happen to you why roll the dice? A couple of weeks ago I got this note from Karen: “A good friend’s friend broke her hip in Ecuador, and she had the basic medical insurance that she bought from her tour company. She was transported to a hospital in Quito where they wanted to do surgery. That was out of the question, so they arranged for a medical evacuation- which wasn’t covered by their policy- and the cost to transport her and her husband to Miami was $93,000!!!! And it had to be paid upfront, in full and not on a credit card. Wow.” That story is one of many the folks at Medjet hear all the time. In this case a transport back to Miami, or the city and hospital of their choice would have been covered in full as a benefit of their Medjet membership. So, if you are traveling this spring or summer take a look at Medjet.com for more information about the program and its benefits. An eight day membership begins at $99. By the way, Karen renewed hers for another year.

Richard Lewis died of a heart attack on Tuesday at 76. Beginning in the 1980s Richard was the comedian’s comedian. The entire industry loved him for his dark, neurotic, and self-deprecating humor. For the past 13 years he was a regular on pal Larry David’s HBO hit Curb Your Enthusiasm. In the season now underway Lewis looked frail, no doubt Parkinson’s taking a toll on him. Roy Firestone, the Emmy Award winning former host of ESPN’s Up Close, and a friend from our college days in the 70s, was a close pal of Lewis. He remembers this story: “In the early 80s I tried my hand at standup comedy at the Improv, a comedy club in West Hollywood. For literally months and even years I would “follow” after people like Jerry Seinfeld, Richard Lewis, Jay Leno, Arsenio Hall, Paul Reiser — all ‘murderers row’ top notch comedic talent — and occasionally I’d have a halfway decent set. One night I even followed Eddie Murphy and had my best set ever on the Improv stage. But I wasn’t great —not in those people’s league, anyway. Richard told me to watch a comedian friend of his one night after my set. It was 1 am. The guy walked up on the stage and had absolutely no command of material, no stage presence and was, in fact, hostile to the audience. It was no act. He threatened to fight members of his audience, he cursed them and once he physically had to be restrained from going after a heckler. It was an ugly scene. Club owner Budd Friedman wanted him barred from his stage. He was, by far, the worst standup comedian I ever saw. Richard asked me what I thought? I said, in a word, “awful.” Richard told me his friend was funny but wasn’t cut out for standup. His name? Larry David.”

If you get a chance send a box of tissues to the Wendy’s corporate execs in Dublin, Ohio, so they can wipe the embarrassing ketchup and mayo off their faces. On Tuesday, taking a page from Uber, word slipped from headquarters that Wendy’s was going to experiment with surge or dynamic pricing in early 2025. So that quarter- pound burger with cheese, fries and a soft drink, loaded with only 590 calories, that today sells for $6.19, could easily become a buck or two more at 12:30 pm and maybe a dollar less at 3 pm. There was immediate push back from consumers and even a threatened Congressional inquiry into price gouging. On Wednesday, after blotting off the mayo and ketchup, Wendy’s announced they were only kidding.

I am rooting for the Mets’ Pete Alonso to go deep every time he steps to the plate this season. He has committed to donate $1,000 to local animal shelters for every home run he hits.

Many significant birthdays over the past fortnight since we last published but none as special as Domingo Samudio who just celebrated his 87th. Who? You know, Sam of Sam the Sham and the Pharaohs. A Texas high school bandmate of the great folk singer Trini Lopez, Samudio struck pay dirt in 1964 with Wooly Bully, selling over three million copies and reaching number two on the charts. It’s still a club staple today. A year later he reached number two again this time with Li’l Red Riding Hood. Sam eventually left the music business becoming an interpreter in Mexico and then a mate on a small commercial boat. On a quiet night on the Gulf of Mexico listen closely and maybe you’ll hear, “Matty told Hatty about a thing she saw……”

The state of Hawaii is contemplating charging its visitors a one-time fee of $25 per person per visit to help the state recover from the devastating wildfires last summer and to protect its beaches. Hell, Caesars Palace charges $50 for a mythical resort fee and that’s per day. Greece, New Zealand and Bali already charge a visitor fee: Hawaii’s is more than reasonable. Governor Josh Green said, “It’s a very small price to pay to preserve paradise.” Were there ever truer words from a politician? If the legislature passes the initiative it would mean about $68 million annually to support the islands.

Scott and Cayla moved to London last Sunday. That’s more good news and again some not-so-good-news. Scott spent the first 15 years of his career at the Peninsula Hotel in Beverly Hills before moving to nearby L’Ermitage as general manger for three years, leading the property to Five-Star and Five-Diamond status. The Peninsula recruited him back to become the hotel manager of the brand new Peninsula London. The property is in the very posh neighborhood of Belgravia, an seven-iron from the Palace. Cayla is a marketing and branding exec for a Los Angeles-based commercial real estate public relations firm. They think so highly of her she will work remotely from London. We are really proud of both. The good news for the newlyweds is they have wonderful international opportunities to grow their careers and marriage. The good news for the Peninsula is they hired the right guy. The not-so-good news for Andi and me is we’ll miss them. London, with over 20 visits, is perhaps my favorite city in the world. Now there’s more reason to be a regular at Motcombs, my favorite English dive pub.

 

 

 

8 Comments

  • Ken Rich says:

    Congratulations to Cayla and Scott and good luck in London.

  • Laurie Parr says:

    Another amazing read. I find out so many interesting facts from reading your article Roy. Thank you for taking the time to share your talent for anecdotes and new vocabulary many of us have to look up mid read. It is my opinion that the Dos Equis commercial got it wrong when they deemed Jonathon Goldsmith “The Most Interesting Man In The World.” Cheers to you.

  • Marc J Kahn says:

    Really enjoy reading these. Thanks Roy

  • Carole Bernardi says:

    . . . many mitvah’s ahead for Scott & Cayla. The beauty of youth, new beginnings, is that your eyes are wide open and your heart willingly follows. You & Andi might want to invest in the best mileage awards program because I predict you will be spending a good amount of time in London. At least you’ll get a family discount at the new hotel! Mazel Tov!

  • Bill Floyd says:

    How great !! The perfect excuse to visit London at least twice a year. Lived there as a kid for 4 years while my Dad was stationed there. We were two years in Teddington, and two years in Uxbridge. Loved every minute of it, and it’s great to go back and relive the memories.

  • herb greenberg says:

    Great Richard Lewis/Larry David story!

  • Norm Parsons says:

    Agree on the three point shot. Has to be an asterisk on Clark’s record

  • George Howard says:

    Motcombs! I haven’t thought about that place for years! Had a few good nights there through the years! Glad it’s on your A List!

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