The lazy, August dog days of summer are heating up, so we are going to keep the golf cart in the garage, stay indoors in triple degree desert heat and scramble this morning. Here’s what we’ve got:
Not sure what’s got a better chance— Oakland winning the World Series, Vanderbilt becoming the SEC football champions or finding a federal jury pool of 12 independent, non-prejudicial Trump jurors. At this point I’ll go with Vandy.
No idea why I find this interesting but with widespread casino gambling throughout our country, and slot machines being the most popular attraction, Nevada is still way out in front in the number of bandits to gobble up your vouchers. The Silver State has 122,026 machines, far outpacing Pennsylvania with 26,137 and Mississippi’s 22,345. New York and Louisiana are fourth and fifth. One would have guessed New Jersey, the second state to legalize gaming after Nevada, would be higher than seventh but their 16,516 machines are 150 less than Ohio, which sits sixth.
And speaking of New Jersey, they are now the last state in the country to still have full service gasoline stations; technically, self-service is outlawed. Oregon just approved self-service leaving Jersey the last bastion of attendants to fill it up. It’s estimated an extra 12 cents per gallon is the cost of being able to sit in your car and text.
Got a note last week from former White Sox shortstop Bucky Dent remembering, with a chuckle, it was 47 years ago on August 8, 1976, that Chicago took the field wearing their new uniforms with shorts. This wasn’t the brainchild of wacky Sox owner Bill Veeck; instead it was his wife, Mary Frances, who thought it would be a good promotional idea. She was decades ahead of New York Yankees Assistant to the Traveling Secretary George Constanza who convinced manager Buck Showalter to trade polyester uniforms for cotton because “cotton breathes.” Cotton also rapidly shrinks just like the shrinkish George experienced after a dip in the ocean in the Hamptons. The White Sox experiment was brief. Playing ball in shorts according to Bucky, “Was weird. They gave us these little knee pads to wear in case we had to slide, but it didn’t cover the whole knee. After three games it was time to go back to conventional baseball pants.” However, Mrs. Veeck might have been on to something. In games where the White Sox didn’t wear shorts they were 62-96. With shorts, 2-1.
Happy birthdays this week to: Hulk Hogan is 70. Somehow Dennis The Menace survived Mr. Wilson and Jay North turned 72. Former Boston Celtics guard extraordinaire Bob Cousy is 95. And a very special birthday to the legendary Norman Lear who turned 101 and is still hard at work creating scripts. Amazing.
Andi and I celebrate our 32nd on Thursday and we are both sick over what’s happened in Lahaina. Maui is our favorite vacation spot and we’ve spent many a night with dinner and entertainment on Front Street, which has been destroyed.
Perhaps a little late to the party but we really enjoyed the four seasons of Fauda on Netflix.
This took a little bit longer in Americana than it should have. Finally, a relative of Elvis Presley is entering the national political picture. Brandon Presley, a cousin of the King, said it’s Now or Never and is seeking to become governor of Mississippi, the same state where Elvis was born and raised in Tupelo. Brandon, 46, was elected mayor of small town Nettleton, Mississippi, twenty-three years ago. He also served on the state’s Public Service Commission. The bad news for Presley is he’s a Democrat running against Republican incumbent Gov. Tate Reeves in a state that’s redder than next door neighbor Alabama’s home uniforms.
On average two newspapers a week cease print publication.
When is the last time you did the Bunny Hop?
Every time I hear a Nat King Cole song, I wonder if there has ever been a smoother crooner?
The late Tug McGraw was a pitcher for the Mets and Phillies over three decades— the 60s, 70s and 80s. He won a World Series with each team. Tug was also country singer Tim McGraw’s dad. I was reminded recently of his classic response when asked the difference between playing on grass and AstroTurf. “I don’t know,” he replied. “I never smoked AstroTurf.”
Speaking of the Mets, this season was one of a high payroll and an even higher expectations. It crashed months ago like losing control in the third turn at Talladega. The season was defined on Saturday when the Mets lost a doubleheader to the Braves by a combined score of 27-3.
Old school baseball stuff: last Wednesday night the Phillies had a 7-0 lead over the Nationals after eight innings. Starter Michael Lorenzen had thrown 111 pitches and his night’s work should have been long over. Manager Rob Thomson hasn’t had a pitcher throw a complete game this season. However, Washington had no hits off Lorenzen so Thomson gave him the ninth inning with the understanding that any more than 20 pitches the skipper would pull him. It took Lorenzen 13 pitches to seal the no-hitter. And the best news is his arm didn’t fall off.
We saw two shows at Caesars Palace Colosseum over the past couple of weeks. First was Garth Brooks, who, other than his stage presence, isn’t at all related to the Garth Brooks we once knew. It was our third Garth concert since back in the mid-80s when he capped ticket prices at $79 because he didn’t want to gouge his audience. That game has changed. Garth is still great with banter and as entertaining as they come, but the modest financial model he once professed is gone. Our tickets, second section back in the orchestra, were $550 each. Brooks has taken the Pixies 1989 recording of Gouge Away literally. The prima donna factor also kicked in with no phones, no pictures allowed in the theater. Not that he gives a damn, but that was the last time for me. Eight days later, after a second experience of cocktails and dinner at The Palm in the Forum Shops, we went to see Seinfeld in the same theater. Different experience. Second row off the stage for $240. Use your phone all you want, have a Kodak party. This was my third Seinfeld experience and the first two times, for some forgotten reason, I didn’t care for him. This time I really enjoyed it. Andi said now that he is 69 and showing gray, he has a legitimate license to do old man Jewish humor. She was right. He was funny.
Foodies in India are beside themselves. Subway just announced because of high costs they will no longer offer cheese on their delectable sandwiches. So, next time you are in Hyderabad or Jaipur craving a taste of the homeland be prepared to have your Samosa or Tandoori chicken void of paneer.
Major League Baseball attendance is up 9.2% this season. A good portion of that can be attributed to shorter games, under three hours, thanks in large part to the pitch clock moving games along. Also, Baltimore, Cincinnati and Texas have seen huge attendance gains because they are in postseason contention for the first time in many years. It’s a good indicator for the game which has gotten stale and needs good news.
My season over/under baseball bets are heading for the stretch run. I should be in the winner’s circle with at least two out of three. The Royals under 69.5 wins will cash, needing 13 more losses with 43 games remaining. Same for the Rangers over 80.5 wins only 11 away with 45 games to go. The Pirates, my large play, will most likely go down to the final week or maybe the last weekend of the season needing to go over 67.5 wins. Pittsburgh right now has 52 with 46 games remaining. They need to play .348 baseball to cover. At this point of the season the weather also becomes key because any rainout, that’s not rescheduled, is a killer for ‘over’ players.
Old ticket stub of the week — In honor of the Jets debut on Hard Knocks and their imminent Super Bowl championship, let’s go back to the Jets-Buffalo match-up on November 8, 1964. I was 12. It was pre-AFL-NFL merger. It cost $6.00 to sit in a field level box at Shea Stadium, the year it opened. We were on about the 10 yard line. Buffalo came into the game with a 9-0 record; the Jets at 4-3-1. The Bills flew home that night at 10-0. Their head coach was Lou Saban, no relation to Nick. Ironically, about a dozen years later I got to know Lou when he became the head coach at the University of Miami. The Jets struck early with quarterback Dick Wood hitting receiver Bake Turner on a 71 yard scoring strike in front of 62,000, the largest home crowd of the year. However, the fat lady soon sang for the Jets as Cookie Gilchrist ran for 99 yards, quarterback Daryle Lamonica threw for 267 more and Pete Gogolak kicked two field goals in a 20-7 win, covering the five point Vegas spread. Buffalo finished the season at 12-2 and beat San Diego for the AFL championship. The winner’s share was $2,600 each. On that November Sunday Jets QB Wood was 23 for 49 for 367 yards, but in what was to become standard Jets fashion threw five interceptions. It was his last season with the team. The Jets selected Joe Namath with the first pick of the 1965 AFL draft and four years later he led us to the promised land for the first and only time. Until this season with Aaron.
And finally, if anyone ever tells you words don’t matter they are wrong. Jodi Severson worked with me back in the 1990s when I was general manager of a pari-mutuel racetrack in Wichita, Kansas. She was our controller. Jodi left after about four years to relocate with her husband to Minneapolis. We kept in touch for the next 30 plus years. Jodi died unexpectedly in late June, just days after we last spoke. At her memorial service in Austin, Texas, two Sundays ago, her daughter Amy Tiemann eulogized her mom. In Amy’s eulogy she cited the words that I said to her about her mom’s work ethic and character when she visited Wichita over twenty-five years ago. The service was streamed and if I wasn’t sitting down you could have easily knocked me over when she mentioned me by name and quoted what I said about her mom. I had no recall of those words or even meeting Amy. But I don’t doubt I said it because I now understand the impression it had on someone. Thanks Amy for that reminder. Words matter. Choose them carefully.