Thursday, August 30, 2018

Legends of Summer

There were some surprising headlines this week.  The stories had been developing for a long time but shocking nonetheless when published in the venerable Las Vegas Review Journal.  The one stunner that caught the Yard’s attention was the headline that Prostitutes face uncertain future when their brothel is closed. The Love Ranch in Pahrump was closed in early August after the owner Dennis Hof failed to renew his license on time for the establishment. There had been a long simmering debate in rural Nevada of the business value of legalized prostitution.   That debate ended in Urban Nevada in 1951 when brothels were closed in Reno and Las Vegas for being public nuisances. The HOF is the Republican GOP assembly candidate for the county and owner of nine brothels.  He irked the political establishment in the county with his assemblyman cum brothel owner run.  One would question a man missing a license renewal date when everyone is hoping that you do so they can put you of business. We do not have an opinion on legalized whoring or Mr. Hof’s candidacy.  We do feel that prostitutes have always faced an uncertain future and if the brothel closing tips over your cart, time to look for more certainty in life.  Fortunately for the workers, a US District Judge ordered the Love Ranch open for business this week.  Our judicial process at work.

The Little League World Series is one of the Yard’s favorite summer events.  The Yardlets all played LL in the legendary Pasadena Southwest Little League.  Legendary might a bit overstated for a league that has never had a single player make it to the majors.  We are not sure if anyone ever made it to the minors either but it was a fun league for sure.  The teams that go to Williamsport, PA are the All-star teams from each of the leagues across the country.  It is much like the Electoral College where all states are not equal.  PSWLL included many of the higher priced zip codes in Pasadena.  Driven youth, struggling to make a better life for themselves is not the typical story in this bucolic, urban expanse.  There was a talent and exciting seasons but we were no Hawaii or even Toms River.  We are told the Hawaiian LL is run a bit differently for this island nation.  That might explain why they have won three titles in four trips to the finals since 2005.

Las Vegas Little League is and has been a breeding ground for MLB.  In the beginning there was Gregg Maddux and Mike Morgan.  Maddux is a WS champion and Hall of Famer.  Morgan was on the 2001 WC Diamondbacks and played for 12 teams during his 21-year career.  Barry Zito played LL in LV. Of late, the trifecta of Bryce Harper, Kris Bryant and Joey Gallo has been mentioned often and their LV roots.  But there are sixteen other players in the majors from Southern Nevada including Tommy Pham and Chase Shreve.  Not too many cities can claim that many players playing at the highest level today. Harper and Gallo played on the same LL and club teams from eight years old to high school.  Harper and Bryant played some club together before HS.  All of them went Yard at the tender age of eight, which is no easy feat even at 12. As good as they are now, they were just little kids trying to figuring it out back then.  Surprisingly, none of these present day greats ever made the LLWS.  There are many major leaguers who played in the LLWS including Todd Frazier who lead that Toms River team in 1998.  Las Vegas Little League made the US finals in 2014 and backed into the title win Jackie Robinson West LL was DQ’ed after if was found to have used ineligible players.  It was the city’s only trip to Williamsport in history.

Baseball is the ultimate team sport.  The game is played at a deliberate pace with every pitch a chess move on the six-inning board.  There is lots of team time while in the dugout waiting to bat or to play.  One or two great talents will not win championships but scrappy, competitive teams can and do.  The LL teams that win championships show the resiliency to overcome disappointment in one at bat to fight to the next.  For many, making it to Williamsport will be the highlight of their lives.  Imagine hitting that note before you are thirteen years old.  The eventual champion of the seven-week battle to the finals will bring joy and pride to their community.  The 2nd place team will remember these moments with pride and joy forever even if we never recall who finished second.  That is not just a Little League thing at the Yard. 

The Major League Baseball post-season race this year seems poised to be legend.  In the NL, there are eight teams vying for the five available playoff spots.  The NL West looks to be the most interesting to the Yard.  There is Yard bias most assuredly but we were rooting for the Pumpkin Kids these past few nights in their series with Arizona.  Giant’s starting pitching is starting to find its way.  Unfortunately, the team is getting a bit long in the tooth and bloated in the payroll.  Giant fan has to hope for a stretch run because this could be their last run before this team gets blown up and rebuilt.  In the AL, the only battle is for the Wild Card and possibly the AL West Title.  The A’s have been the story of the season and only trail the Astros by 1.5 games.  The Astros have finally gotten everyone healthy and on the same page.  They will probably turn this into a boat race and they do have the better boat.  It is hard to predict how this will end.  We hope with the Blue Crew playing into late October but the Dodgers have not fared well against the good teams.  They do beat up the underachievers pretty well.  It does not get any easier from here.

Ross Stripling has become a coveted member of the Dodgers 2018 rotation.  Stripling had Tommy John surgery in 2014 and did not pitch until 2016. In his April 2016 MLB debut; Stripling took a no-hitter into the 8th inning.  Dodger skipper Dave Roberts pulled him when he reached 100 pitches after walking Angel Pagan.  Many questioned Robert’s decision given the historic implications.  The only other pitcher to pitch a no-no in his first start was Bumpus Jones for the Reds in 1892.  We were unhappy because the first SF batter faced in relief homered to tie the game.  Brandon Crawford homered in the tenth to win it. The no-hitter was lost along with the game to the hated ones.

In 2012, Johan Santana pitched the first and only no-hitter in New York Met’s history. It is hard to imagine that the Mets of David Cone, Tom Seaver and Doc Gooden among others had never had a no-hitter. Santana was coming off Tommy John Surgery in 2010 and did not pitch in 2011.  In 2012, he was back in CY Young form albeit for an eventual 4th place team.  Hope was still in air that June night for the Mets and Santana had not allowed a hit to Cardinal line-up that would finish one game away from the WS.  Santana pitched a no-hitter and the Mets won 8-0.  It took 134 pitches to get that achievement and it would be among the last of Santana’s career.  He would be out of baseball by the end of the season at 33 years old.

In 2013, SF Giant pitcher Timmy Lincecum pitched the first of his two no-hitters.  It was similar story to Santana’s.  The Giants would win the game 9-0 on their way to a 76-86 finish in 4th place.  The Timster’s no-hitter was the highlight of the season for the Giant faithful.  It was against the lowly Padres who he would no-hit a second time in 2015.  On this meaningless night during this meaningful achievement, Licecum would throw 146 pitches.  He chalked up 13 strikeouts and walked four.  He was 29 years old.  He would be out of baseball by age 32.  Two important milestones for the players and their teams.  Shortened careers for the protagonists in each narrative.  Not sure if the high pitch count lead to meeting their expiration date. But in 2018, Ross Stripling is almost 29 years old with an 8-3 record and a 2.62 ERA and a bright future that is on the uptick not the down slope.

Leader in the clubhouse:  The debate of the greatest ever seems to favor Michael Jordan.  He is the leader in so many categories in NBA history it is hard to argue against him.  Bill Russell lead the most championship teams but the NBA was pretty fledgling back them with nine teams total.  The Celtics were crafty and the Lakers not so much.  Today’s NBA exploded in 1979-80 when Magic and Larry Bird took their collegiate rivalry to the NBA.  Michael came on the heels on those teams but did not really break through until they were on their back nine.  LeBron is the main challenger to the GOAT mantel for the NBA that Jordan holds.  The Yard already has voted to give it him but our votes don’t count much like California’s in the general election in 2016.

Any NBA GM would pick LeBron ahead of MJ in any mock draft held today based on their prime.  MJ was 6-6 195 lbs.  LeBron is 6-8 250.  Their career stats are almost identical.  Jordan scored more and took more shots than James.  James averaged more assists and rebounds.  Jordan averaged 71 regular season games for his 15 seasons.  James averages 81.6 regular season games for his 14 seasons and running.  MJ had all kinds of drama surrounding him throughout his career with his gambling and womanizing.  Many have assumed Jordan pursued baseball because he was going to suspended for gambling when the stories came out that he welched on a million dollar golf bet.  He underwent the most massive divorce in US history when his then wife was finally fed up with his antics.  James has never had a shred of drama or outside the lines shenanigans.  He is opening schools in Ohio and producing shows for HBO. MJ gets to live in his legend.  LeBron is still creating his and it is more compelling to the Yard.  If he leads his third NBA team to a title he is legend.

Are you kidding me:  Three game suspension for Urban Meyers? Oh wait, he is at Ohio State.  In Columbus, you can lie, promote ethics when you have none and cover up domestic violence.  You might miss three games but you still get to compete for a national title and all the glory.

Monday, August 6, 2018

The King has new clothes!

It would seem like cause for celebration with the King coming to Los Angeles but our joy is muted.  After signing, LeBron James was at the NBA summer games in Laker regalia cheering on 7-10 guys that will never wear a regular season Laker uniform.  James should help end the Laker’s playoff lapse and transition from out of this moribund period in Laker history.  It could be the return of Showtime or at least matinee time! But still how can the Yard celebrate when Southwest Airlines has announced that peanuts will no longer be provided during flight service effective August 1.  SWA is our charter service and those peanuts are the bomb, not the honey roast, the dry roast.  The times they are changing.

The United States not being in the World Cup does not matter to hard core Premier League soccer fans but it does matter to the rest of us.  There are lots of reasons that US soccer is so mediocre.  The highest finish that the US has ever achieved in World Cup was in the first FIFA World Cup in 1930 in Uruguay.  The main qualifier for the 1930 World Cup was to be able to get a team to frigging Uruguay in 1930.  The requirements are more about Benjamin’s these days for Qatar in 2022 not steamer trunks. The 1930 US hopefuls lost to Argentina 6-1 in the semifinals.  They were awarded 3rd place when the former Yugoslavia refused to play the consolation game after a 6-1 loss to Uruguay.   

With the large migration from Europe to the US in the late 1800’s and early 1900’s, soccer was the sport that was played in their neighborhoods.  America was a country of immigrants back then.  These immigrants played soccer when not pursuing their dreams. Soccer was wildly popular and there was even a semi-professional soccer league before the NFL. The American brand of football evolved in colleges and ultimately the NFL was founded in 1920. Prior to these Darwinian events, soccer was still more popular through the 20’s and 30’s.  As American football carved out it’s unique place in the world, FIFA marched on with the rest of the world with the real futbol.  At that time, there was collegiate football but not collegiate soccer.  Over the next generations, these immigrants assimilated into this amalgamation of cultures.  The NFL was the winner of those athletes.   There was not a team in the cup in 2018 that had better athletes than the best in this country not playing soccer.  In Europe and South America, their best athletes play soccer.  In the US, they play everything but soccer.  There are great athletes in US soccer just not all of our best.  Interestingly, the French World champions are 67% immigrants or sons of immigrants.  US soccer could benefit from the next generational shift back away from the NFL with CTE and concussion issues.

LeBron coming to LA was the only outcome.  The King could no longer remain in Cleveland.  He accomplished what he told the city he would when he wrote his open letter upon his return in 2014.  He indicated that his goal was to bring one title to Cleveland.  He had opportunities for three others but the one was his only commitment.  James has learned over the years from the wildly decried “The Decision” with ESPN and Jim Gray.  This time, there was barely an announcement and it was quick.  James realized he wanted to team up with Magic and possibly close out his career with this legendary team.  If he is able to get the Lakers a title or even two, he will have a statute out front with Chick, Jerry and Magic and put his jersey in the rafters.  James will be driven to validate this decision.  He wants to continue his recovery efforts with his third straight city hungry for a title.  We certainly hope he accomplishes that goal.

The Warriors are still the franchise to beat with the signing of Boogie Cousins to be their beast off the bench. The move would appear to greatly strengthen the two time defending champions.  It could also be a Trojan horse sent by the rest of the NBA to get into the Golden State locker room and cause turmoil.  Cousins has been a smoldering superstar his entire career.  Boogie has averaged 21 & 10 in his nine NBA seasons.  He has never really made his team better while playing well for himself.  In 2017, he did set the record for getting to the 16 Technical fouls automatic suspension limit in 50 games.  It was the fastest ever. Anthony Davis and Cousins made a formidable low post presence for the Pelicans last season before Cousins went down with a season ending Achilles tear after 48 games last year.  Over the final three months of the season NOLA went 21-13 and swept the equally impressive Portland Trailblazers in the first round of the playoffs.  To make the playoffs, they needed to beat a lot of good teams in the West including Golden State at home.  They accomplished all of this after Cousins went down.

Boogie is not a defense guy nor is he and an up and down the court guy.  He can shoot a three.  Warriors play defense and get up and down the floor and shoot threes.  The Warriors already have Draymond who is a punk in any other city.  We are not sure if there is enough room in the locker room for two punks.  Jerry West is unavailable, working to save the Clippers now after showing the Warriors the way.  The Warriors are going to have time to figure this out since Cousins will not be able to play until February at the earliest.  Golden State got him on the cheap but he will only playing half of a season while recovering from his injury.  

Last summer the Dodgers traded for Yu Darvish to hopefully deliver a championship to their thirsty fans.  Darvish was the real deal until he needed be the real deal in the World Series.  Yo Garbage had two of the worst starts in series history. Two games started, 3.1 total innings pitched, 9 hits, 9 runs, 2 walks no K’s, 21.60 ERA.  Dave Roberts choosing Yu over Alex Wood or even Kershaw to start game 7 after the disaster in Game 3 was the fatal coaching error from which the crew would never recover.  Even in that aftermath, the Dodgers considered re-signing Garbage with Kershaw pleading with management to pull the trigger.  Dodger management demurred and the Cubs signed him to a 6-year $126 million fully guaranteed deal.  Darvish is off to a blistering start with 1-3 record, 4.79 ERA and has not pitched since May 20.  Dodgers then traded for Kemp who was last seen at the buffet at Shakey’s.  With Kemp’s bloated contract and belly, the locals were none to excited to see this trade executed.  Mattie has been the foundation of the season so far.  He is an All-Star and a leader in the clubhouse.  This year we are renting another Manny.  Should be exciting but the bar is set at winning a championship anything less is a disappointment.

Legalized gambling is exploding since the Supreme Court ruled it is a state decision. Individual states can allow their constituency to prognosticate on sporting events with their money at risk. Tax revenue based on people making bad decisions is the American way.  Several states have already jumped in but the state that is going to benefit the most is Nevada.  The Silver State has had legalized gambling since 1951.  Vegas has always been nimble helping people find new ways to piss their money away. In an ideal gambling scenario for the house, the take is 10%.  The odds are adjusted in this business model to load level the money on either side of the outcome while taking 10% off the top.  This ten percent is the gross amount of the revenue not net.  There are people processing these bets, drinks provided to entice you to make more bets, and flat screens everywhere to see your cover six win by five.  Ten percent for all of that and that is if the odds are right.  Last Super Bowl, all of the money was coming in on the Eagles even though the Patriots were the favorite.  Vegas odds makers kept moving the line like the Federal Reserve a ½ point at time.  Philadelphia was always the underdog and won outright.  Bettors cashed on the cover, the money line and the over. The ten percent for Nevada became. 1.5%.  The books had $115 million in play on the game for a 1.5% return.  There are not very many industries or departments within a larger enterprise that can survive while grossing 1.5% profit.

The Las Vegas business model has the Sports Book as a bundled service.  The patron at the book who just lost two Benjamin’s is afforded the unique opportunity to win them back at blackjack.  Hope springs eternal when surrounded by slots machines with a free drink in hand. With the family at the movies, bowling or the spa, no one is too far their patron.  Casinos are multi-billion dollar enterprises.  The embedded sports book is a multi-million dollar sub-diversion.  The money that will be bet in the newly minted sports books will not come from Las Vegas revenue streams.  The vendors losing these customers are all of the off shore betting sites.  States will be repatriating the money from their constituents to their state tax rolls.  Las Vegas will be the net winner in this expansion.  Las Vegas has over 60 years of “best practices” for these nascent enterprises. The NBA is already cutting a deal with MGM.  The NHL is next.  The NFL has been quiet but they are the 800 lb. Gorilla that drives the world of sports gambling. 

The hypocrisy of the NFL as it relates to gambling is as laughable as the NCAA and their amateur athletes.  The NFL has stood tall against gambling since the 1960’s.  In 1963, the league suspended Alex Karros and Paul Hornug for gambling $50-100 on several NFL games.  Back then the NFL players had a minimum salary of $6,000 with a league average of about $25,000.  It was feared gamblers could lure or blackmail a player into affecting the outcome of the game.  In 2018, the minimum amount a player can make is $480,000.  It is hard to imagine that a player making the minimum could affect the outcome of a game.  The person that could possibly do that is making $20 million a year.  The interest and excitement in the NFL has everything to do with Fantasy football, the cover, the over and all of the other choices a fan has to support their team, their player or their hunch.  All of it is gambling at some level.  Money is spent in an effort to win more of it based on an uncontrollable outcome unless it is the Browns.

The Lake show went from 35 wins in 2017-18 to a projected 49 wins in 2018-19 with the LeBron signing.  The total actually jumped to over 51 wins before sanity returned.  LeBron lead a superior Cleveland team, compared to the Lakers, to 50 wins in an inferior NBA East.  The Lakers went 1-9 against the Warriors, Blazers and Rockets last season.   The Lakers are probably back in the playoffs next year but not a contender.  James did not commit to any championships but a King is expected to reclaim the crown for the city of the Angels.  Anything less would be a disappointment.

Thursday, May 24, 2018

The Knights after the Storm

It is a storm out there for our President. He has the Democrats protesting his every move and many of those moves are quite protestable. He has his own party sheltering themselves from him to secure their mid-term elections, the first since the Donald stormed DC. Many of these tempests are simply ignored by Herr Trump. When confronted with tough questions, he tweets them away with obfuscation. Then came Stormy Daniels, the storm no one wants.

 There is no doubt there were some hijinks between private citizen Trump and the porn actor. Her 60 minutes story was a marketing ploy to continue her rolling fifteen minutes of fame. Ms. Daniels has been at this game for a long time and at 39, she is in the tumbling downside of her career. The Yard would never defend Trump but the accuser and her attorney are not trying to enlighten America. Stormy is touring the country stripping in any nook and cranny for those that would pay $10 to see her nooks and crannies. Her attorney, Michael Avenatti, comes across as a noble reptile trying to promote judicial ethics like a modern day Mark Geragos. He has multiple lawsuits against him since his investment firm acquired Tully’s Coffee in 2013 among other notable mischief. All of it is a sideshow where the Donald is much more worried about Melania’s wrath than the citizens of the US. She checked herself into the hospital to get away from Trump.

In the wake of the Storm of Daniels, came Former FBI Director James Comey and his book A Higher Loyalty reportedly exposing the new President in his early days in office. Comey comes across as articulate, candid and sharp. The Yard is trying to determine who named the fired FBI director as the harbinger of our moral compass. This is the same James Comey who has lead the FBI to its lowest levels of morale and national perception in the 110 year history of the Bureau. J. Edgar is turning in his cocktail dress. Comey loves the attention and lives large, all 6’8” of him. This book gets Lurch back into the spotlight and a $2 million payout to enhance his multi-million dollar lifestyle. He lives in a $3 million home he acquired while earning $172,000 annually as the FBI director. Being legal counsel for a hedge fund paid well before Barry Obama called and asked him to lead the FBI in 2011. He is not the dilatant protector of the American people that he attempts to portray. The Yard does not look for Comey, Stormy Daniels or her legal shrew to illuminate the Trump administration for the nation. All three of them are profiting handsomely from their self-subscribed positions. The main thing that they have in common is the first four letters in the former Director’s name and the associated stain. There is probably not a happy ending for anyone.

USC assistant basketball coach Tony Bland was snared in the college basketball Adidas scandal. Head coach Andy Enfield claimed to have no knowledge Bland’s spurious actions. Andy seems like a standup guy but Bland’s actions definitely benefitted USC and Enfield by bringing in several top recruits in recent years. It is difficult to understand how such activities were going on with recruits without this smart and precise head coach’s knowledge. Coach Enfield has persevered and replaced Bland by hiring Eric Mobley. Mobley has coached in AAU ball the past eleven years with tremendous success. It is an interesting hire given USC’s current situation with potential NCAA violations. AAU is a largely unregulated basketball club sport for elite athletes before they enter college. Almost every major talent in the last 20 years has played AAU ball with other elite talents. AAU is the petri dish where the current college basketball scandals fermented. The shoe companies have unfettered access to the teams and the players. Agents are slithering around the perimeter using family intermediaries to negotiate while trying to ensure short-term college compliance…at least for one year. The Yard is not alleging that coach Mobley was involved in any of these improprieties but they have happened around him. USC highlighted his great success at the AAU level and how excited they are to have him join the Trojans. The press release goes on to mention that he is married with two children. The USC press release did not mention that his two children are 6’10” future recruits. There is nothing illegal or unethical about hiring a coach who is the father of two 6’10” talents. One might question hiring someone directly from AAU into the current college compliance maelstrom. Yard only hopes the NCAA is a little tougher on Pac-12 stalwarts Arizona and USC. The Bruins have a nice recruiting class who came for the college experience not the future shoe contract now. Bruins hoopsters wait at least until after winter quarter before risking their eligibility.

We can appreciate that USC has a lot going on with their athletics and Medical School at this time. The Yard was shocked to read that UCLA head coach Chip Kelly is making over $2 million a year more than USC head coach Clay Helton. Yard interns are searching furiously but cannot find a time where UCLA paid more and certainly not that much more for their respective football coaches. It does make sense on another level when the University begins to examine the financial calamity that will explode out of Dr. George Tyndall scandal. USC Medical was already on double secret probation after Dean Pulitano and his band of miscreants filmed themselves tweaking in his campus office. USC just watched Michigan State agree to pay $475 million in lawsuit payments in the Dr. Larry Nassar scandal. As in the Nassar scandal, allegations and complaints of serious violations of campus coeds had gone on for decades against the doctor. When the complaints finally gained traction with USC administration, Dr. Tyndall was allowed to resign with a severance package in June of 2017. Beyond the egregious nature of his alleged actions, he focused most of his attention on the growing influx of Asian students at the University. USC has gone to great lengths to promote the school overseas to foreign students. The good doctor ended up with a steady steam of young, naïve females who did not understand what happened in a gynecology exam. Dr. Tyndall gave them plenty of exposure and apparently took a few with his iPhone.

 In early April, I attended the National Association of Broadcasters show in Las Vegas. NAB is one of the largest shows of the year. I did plenty of meets and greets over the four days and I was shocked at how many people did not realize that Las Vegas had a hockey team. Questions ensued to determine what level of hockey our little team played. There were looks of disbelief when informed it was an NHL team that was entering the playoffs. How did this happen? Hockey in the desert? It will never work, look at Phoenix! Now most of the sports world knows about the Vegas Golden Knights who have stormed into the Stanley Cup Final. Some are saying it is one of the greatest Cinderella story in sports history. This is no Cinderella story although the clock could strike midnight without Lord Stanley’s Cup.

The Vegas Golden Knights was the vision, focus and execution of Bill Foley. Mr. Foley has been mentioned often in Yard posting and he should be applauded for the results. The team is far from done but what they have accomplished so far is historic for sure. Mr. Foley managed every detail starting with the team being the Vegas Golden Knights not the Las Vegas Golden Knights. The team name lead to logo that is now emblazoned all over the Vegas valley. Foley hired George McPhee to put together a team of unprotected players in the NHL expansion draft. The team built their training facility in Summerlin and incorporated a youth hockey program that is flourishing. The facility incorporated a restaurant and bar so fans could watch the team practice down below or on TV during their sold out games. They assembled a fast, athletic group of castoffs and have raced all the way to the Stanley Cup Finals. No one expected these results. The team went off as a 500:1 shot at winning the Cup. In late 2017, the Knights were still 80:1. Las Vegas is a town that a person can make those bets and many new hockey fans did take those bets. The Sports books are guardedly cheering the team even though their victory will be painful.

But before a single game was played in this remarkable season, Stephen Paddock gunned down fifty-eight people from a Mandalay suite just a few blocks away from the arena. The October 1st Route 91 Festival will forever be remembered for the horrific devastation wreaked over the adult fun capital of the nation. No one knew who the Golden Knights players were at this time. No one probably cared as the dead and dying were being counted. None of the players were from Las Vegas. They were unprotected expansion draftees exiled to the desert to play for a first year team. In the first days after this tragedy, Marc-Andre Fluery, William Karlsson and the rest of these unknown heroes, descended on the area hospitals to visit the over 400 people that were injured. The team set up photo and autograph kiosks around town where players helped the town begin to heal. First responders escorted each Knights player onto the ice during their first introductions to their new hometown on Opening night. Survivors were invited to join the ceremonial puck drop. Before the puck dropped, all 58 names of the killed were displayed on the ice in a tear soaked moment of silence with the 18,000 in attendance. Defenseman Erik Engelland addressed the crowd for exactly 58 seconds. The Star Spangled Banner was lead by victims and every voice in the house could be heard.

As the Knights started to emerge as a quality team regardless of their history, no one forgot their response in the beginning before there was a bandwagon to jump on. Las Vegas was a city of people mostly from somewhere else trying to unite and heal. The Golden Knights became the conductor of those signals. Professional sports are a byproduct of civilizations that have achieved enough wealth to pay the best so that we can watch them ply their craft. Mass shootings are another byproduct of the disenfranchised and delusional in these same societies. Sports at its best can help bring people together to overcome grief. The Yankees carried NY after 9/11 even if the Diamondbacks spoiled the party. New Orleans rallied around the Saints after Katrina. The Red Sox lead Bosox nation to a better place after the Marathon bombing. The Houston Astros carried the city during their World Series championship run last year after Hurricane Harvey. The Golden Knights had none of the historical equity with their chosen city as these franchises in those moments. They paid it forward. After the final home game this season, the team announced that they were retiring the number 58 for the rest of their history. They raised a banner to the rafters with the names of the victims surrounding the 58. A noble gesture and we sincerely hope it is not the last banner we raise this season.