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Yale 62

Roman’s Return, with Surprises
or “From Milford CT, 1988, to Indianapolis, 2022, Where You Know the Outcome”

By Roman Weil

Georgia’s Redemption After 40 Years Played Here

Georgia’s Redemption After 40 Years Played Here

(Ed. Note: Watch for surprises in the section titled Whoa Nellie and again in the final paragraph.)

 

What connection can there be between the Class of ’62 Council Meeting, 1988, and the College Football Championship Game, January 10, 2022?  Herein you’ll read the answer.

Shortly after our 25th Reunion in 1987, the senior leadership of our class realized that the Class of ’63 had overshadowed us with its US Senator and the Class of ’61 had overshadowed us with its frequent mini-reunions. We needed to do more. So the leadership convened a meeting of the Class Council in the summer of 1988 at Vic Miller’s house in Milford to discuss these matters. I think it was Host Miller who suggested that if we should have the best parties. Joe Holmes saw the wisdom in that.

A friend of mine in Chicago (Dartmouth, ’59) had just enjoyed a Class 50th Birthday Party, a black tie event in NYC, the previous fall. I thought that a splendid idea. Why don’t we do such a thing at the Yale Club in the Fall of 1990, the year when many of us turn 50? Seems easy enough to organize — fully in keeping with our being the Party Class. Before too many minutes went by, it was agreed that we’d plan for such with me as Party Planner. Later in the meeting, Leadership said we needed to start planning our 30th Reunion, now four years away. What did people think? I described the four or five reunions I could recall and what I liked and disliked about each. Before long, someone said: Looks like Roman has volunteered to run the 30th Reunion. So I said I’d I do that, too. Within a matter of hours, I became the Party Guy for the Party Class and it didn’t stop. I did the 50th birthday party, too. Yale’62 trained me to be a Party Guy.

Back to Football

Roman Weil

Roman Weil

Now is a good time to add that this Party Guy, who likes that image, developed over the years a life that involved going to major sporting events. I had always been a sports fan, starting with the Crimson Tide. Through a consulting arrangement with the Major League Baseball Players’ Association, I was able to get to important baseball games, then because of my son’s employment, to Super Bowls, and later to major College basketball games.  I became interested in finding and trading for best value seats.

I write this in early January after both Bama beat Cincinnati and Georgia beat Michigan to set the finalists for the Championship game in Indianapolis for January 10.  I am planning to go with B’ham Brett, whom you met in my prior report, and grandson Baillie. About our tickets. In working on logistics, I connected with a friend who lives in Indy and ask about a restaurant which leases parking near the Stadium venue.  She vouches for the quality of the ambience and food there.  I soon learn that the restaurant is leasing parking, but will not be open before the game.  I write to find out why.  I learn that help is so hard to hire and they’ve been so busy that they don’t want to commit to being open on what promises to be another chaotic football evening.  Could I book the restaurant for limited menu, fixed price, one seating event with pre-reserved seats, served buffet style with fewer demands on wait staff?

Well, yes, we could do that at www.GreekIslandsRestaurant.com.  Soon, the manager and I work out a deal that seems attractive for Bama fans and the owner/manager.  Now, I need to recruit takers, which I do through a web site for alums called TiderInsider.

Meanwhile, I observe the market value of tickets for the game declines, not exactly plunges, but drops noticeably.  Many have bought tickets hoping to earn scalpers’ profits and express dismay on websites that there appear no such profits to be earned.   Bama and Georgia fans have had two big games in the last month to absorb.  No wonder there is little left in their dollar and time budgets for another Big Game.  You read my prediction of this earlier.  At any rate, those who wait to buy their tickets until the last minute are happy with their decisions to wait.   I have not been such a person.  We bought some tickets in December and would have been happier to have waited until now.

I’ve read the data about ticket prices, which you might find interesting, likely not as interesting as I, a professional economist who participated in the market with real cash on the line.  Apparently writers about sports tickets prices focus on the so-called “Get-in Price”—what you pay for the cheapest ticket to get you in.  I think that not useful for my sort of interest, because I’d never go to a sporting event and sit in the seat that ticket would purchase.  I’d rather watch from home. In fact, for the 2021 game in Miami, where I had gone to buy at the last minute, prices for decent seats were so high that we decided to stay home and watch.  Still, that’s the numeraire the analysts use, so that’s the data I find and report.  Here are the Get-In Prices at game time, reading The Athletic:

2019:  $202, Bama vs. Clemson, Santa Clara
2020:    964, LSU vs. Clemson, New Orleans
2021: 1,566, Bama vs. Ohio State, Miami
2022:    400, Bama vs. Georgia, Indianapolis ($1,000 on January 1, 2022)

The Athletic’s writer, Daniel Kaplan, attributes (virtually) all the decline in the Get-in Price to Covid, while I have attributed it to the boredom/ennui with repeated Bama-Georgia overexposure.  Kaplan predicts that the decline in Get-In Prices will continue throughout the NFL Playoffs and that will lend credence to the Covid theory, not to the Bama-Georgia Boredom Hypothesis.

Whoa Nellie (with grace note to ABC Sports legendary broadcaster Keith Jackson)

Saturday afternoon, paying attention to the pro games and getting ready to travel, I plan supper at my favorite pizza place.  The food tastes funny.  In fact, I reflect, all the food I’ve had all day tastes funny, starting with the coffee this morning.  Nothing tastes right.  I wonder if I’ve contracted COVID.  By coincidence, I visited my primary care doc for routine check-up on Monday this past week and he says I’m the best he’s seen in several years:  weight is noticeably down, as is BP and glucose count.  Balance is great.  Chest X-ray is all clear, et al.  I ask him about this food thing and he says getting COVID tests here is “challenging,” his word.  He has an emergency patient for whom the earliest test he can get is three days hence.  Given what he saw and my blood tests, COVID is the most likely cause of that food taste symptom.  Better not to travel even though I have no other symptoms.

I don’t want to hear more from him, because if I press him, I might get instructions to quarantine or something like that.  I’ll be content to not travel to Indy and watch like the rest of us.  I worry that if I go, I’ll infect those with whom I’ll be in close contact—my grandson and B’ham Brett.

We had bought three expensive ones the week after the Final Four were announced. When Baillie bailed out we put the three up for sale as a block on StubHub because it allows you to sell one or two or three of a group. We sold at our asking price, still at a loss from what we paid, but we were happy. When I had to cancel, Brett found a single in the weakening market, buying a first row of Sec 300 in the club house for face value plus broker fee. A good deal he thought for an excellent seat on the 25-yard line. And so it goes.

Reactions to the Game

You know the final score, Georgia 33 – Bama 18, but unless you paid attention you don’t know it tells you little about how close was the actual game, how tense.    At half time, the score showed Bama ahead 9 – 6, but didn’t reveal that Georgia had committed SEVEN penalties for 70 yards to Bama’s two for only 10 yards.  To my eye, Georgia was beating Bama, except on the scoreboard.  Bama lost its main offensive wide receiver mid-way through the 2nd quarter, which was a big blow, but we note Bama had not managed to cash in on his presence before his injury.  The game struggled back and forth until the start of the fourth quarter, when Bama, trailing 13 – 9, had 3rd down from Georgia’s 3-yard line.  Here, I think analytics says:  try two running plays to score; if you fail Georgia has the ball on its own goal line and you are well-positioned.   Saban (more likely, his offensive coordinator) chose to pass on 3rd down and when that failed, to cash in another field goal, closing the score to 13 – 12, Georgia ahead, fourteen minutes to play.  In retrospect, I think Saban was signaling his lack of faith in his offensive line and the inability of his team to beat Georgia in head-to-head play from there.  I’ve not yet read any analysis agreeing with me.  The final score signals the better team, but not how much better.

Preliminary signs suggests that next season’s big game will be, as it was for the 2021 season, the SEC Championship Game in Atlanta.  I’m now planning to go.  It will again likely determine whether Bama and Georgia get to the Final Four.

I continue to read that negotiations (and sulking) between the decision-makers run aground, so that the format of the playoffs will continue as is through 2025.  No revision to a 12-team version, as had seemed likely last summer will emerge. The SEC doesn’t care.

Wrap-Up

Party Man Set-Up

Party Man Set-Up

I did not go to the June 1988 Class meeting seeking to be Party Guy, but it changed my life for the better.  The parties come along every few years and the steps needed to get them going are repetitive.  Commercial vendors always want to help you make the activity successful.  I get appreciation for relatively little work, unlike in my day job where a dean told me around 1975 that the only place an academic will find appreciation is in the dictionary.  I’ll tell you a trick you may still have occasion to exploit.  Every party that involves two hours or more of people’s standing around talking in small groups, changing groupings, can benefit from the host’s hiring a so-called “close-up magician.”  Magicians have over the last fifty years perfected the craft of dressing like party guests, mingling like party guests, performing magic tricks right in front of the guests and wowing their socks off.  They don’t bother those who don’t want to be bothered, but delight virtually all, from kids through adults.  I learned about this from one of the great mathematicians of our generation, Persi Diaconis, co-inventor of computer-intensive statistics who was inducted into the Magicians Hall of Fame before the age of 20 for his work, among other things, on close-up magic.  He helped find the right people for some of my parties.

The pre-game tailgate gyros party was too short to warrant a magician, but it succeeded anyhow.  The manager sold a table to some Georgia Bulldog fans, who behaved, as did the Bama fans, I’m told.

I watched the game in relative calm in front of the TV.  I had the advantage of two computer channels, one playing ESPN2, which has for several years devoted its broadcast to a venture called the Film Room.  They hire an entire top college coaching staff, this year from Texas A&M, and isolate them with the live game playing on several screens and the coaches talking to each other in real time about what they see during the game.  Coach Jimbo Fisher remarked, in effect, “That’s the first time Georgia has run that gap play and it’s good for 60 yards.”  The main broadcasters don’t note things like that.  The other half dozen coaches remark on aspects of the game they pay attention to and we observers don’t get a play by play, but more insight than from the regular broadcast.

As I mentioned above, Bama’s early lead did not make me feel good because Georgia felt like it was winning in spite of what the scoreboard said.  The penalties slowed Georgia down.  By the 4th quarter, when Georgia began to score uninhibited by its own mistakes we Bama fans knew we were getting our just outcome.  Disappointed, yes.  Emotionally riven?  No.  Georgia was better on January 10.  It was an exciting game whose final score belies how close it was until the final minute.

Postscript.  Covid test came back positive; good that I canceled the trip.  BTW.  I observe that many of our ilk are reluctant to discuss having or having had Covid.  I can’t think why.  No shame for me. I was triply vaccinated by the time that was socially acceptable.  I’m surprised at how much of a non-event this has been:  loss of taste for less than two days.  Inconvenience of quarantining for several days.  I was nonchalant about it before contracting it and now, having it, nonchalant, still.

 
We welcome your comments below.

1 comment to Roman’s Return, with Surprises

  • John Stewart

    Loved it. My wife tested pos for Covid the day after Xmas – two weeks later neg. I never got it, using the strategy of not kissing her.
    Keep these stories coming, Big R!

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