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Murray's Mailbag: Is a cheesecake a cake or a pie? (And Nevada season-ticket prices)

Cheesecake
Surely, this{ }cheesecake is delicious, but is it a cake, a pie or something else? (Handout)

You know it's a Monday Mailbag in July when we're talking cheesecakes, but this question was too good to pass up, so let's get to it. Thanks, as always, for your inquiries.

(Note: If you're not seeing the tweets, it's probably because you're not using Google Chrome. Use Google Chrome).

A cake most commonly uses the following ingredients: flour, sugar, eggs, butter, a liquid and a leavening agent like baking soda or baking powder. A cheesecake includes butter, eggs and sugar but not flour, which may or may not disqualify it from being a cake (there are various flour-less cakes out there). Cheesecake also typically does not use baking soda or baking powder as the beating of the cream cheese, butter, sugar and eggs provides the lift. I would argue a cheesecake is generally too light to be a cake. Cakes are hefty. The crust under the cheesecake could lend some credence to your belief it is more like a pie, but we're missing a lattice when it comes to cheesecakes. I feel like a pie needs the ability to have a lattice, and I'd never put a lattice on a cheesecake. The Cake Bible, written in 1988, argues that a cheesecake is more a pie than a cake (and who I am to argue with The Bible of Cake).

Wikipedia, which is never wrong, tells us: "Ironically, modern cheesecake is not usually classified as a cake, despite the name. People who classify it as a torte point to the presence of many eggs, which are the sole source of leavening, as a key factor. For others, the overall structure, with the separate crust, the soft filling, and the absence of flour, is compelling evidence that it is a custard pie. Other sources identify it as a flan or tart."

My official ruling is that cheesecake is neither a cake (no flour and no heft) nor a pie (no ability to have a lattice) but rather a tart (or a flan with crust if you like). There is one exception to this ruling. The cheesecakes at Cheesecake Factory are indeed cakes. Those things are heavier than a phone book. Now, onto Nevada basketball season-ticket prices, which is clearly less important than our cheesecake discussion, but you also had plentiful inquiries about that.

Predictable. Men's basketball is Nevada athletics' cash cow, so the Wolf Pack is going to squeeze as much money out of that program as possible even if their head coach's salary is decreasing from $1 million (what Eric Musselman made last season) to $500,000 (what Steve Alford will make this season). It's really not the one-year increase that is tough for some fans to swallow. It is the increases in each of the last four years, which has pushed the top seats from $3,005 to $5,000; the most affordable lower-bowl seats from $605 to $999; and the cheapest seats from $185 to $299. Fans were fine with the increase last season because Nevada was returning a Sweet 16 team and entered the year in the preseason top 10. Will they be fine with another big increase heading into a season that could resemble a rebuild of sorts? Time will tell, but I'd expect the loss of a couple thousand season-ticket holders.

When I was at the Reno 1868 FC game Wednesday, the day Nevada released the renewal prices, two Wolf Pack basketball season-ticket holders (who I had never met before) came up to me and were upset with the increases. "Did we miss them getting to the Final Four?" one said sarcastically. These fans said they would not re-up their seats. With Nevada losing its entire starting five and its beloved head coach, a price freeze would have made some sense given Alford's lower salary this season. Instead, prices increased up to 50 percent. And I'm sure part of this is a result of Nevada football simply not creating enough revenue in recent seasons.

I do think the increases could have been rolled out differently. Instead of releasing them around 4 p.m. the day before the start of a four-day weekend, which is when you typically try to bury news, I'd have been in favor of Nevada athletic director Doug Knuth doing a mini-press circuit to explain to fans why the prices were increasing and where that money would be going to help build the program. More charter flights? Bigger recruiting budget? Additional salary for assistant coaches? Better practice equipment? Money for locker rooms in the practice facility? Fans would be more receptive to increases in prices if it was explained to them why the hikes were necessary, how the ticket prices cost compared to other Mountain West schools, etc. Transparency is good.

I think interest in a first-year head coach will keep three-quarters of last season's 9,506 season-ticket holders in the fold as renewals (so somewhere around 7,000 season-ticket holders), but if Nevada falls short of the NCAA Tournament this season, I could see a pretty good chunk of people opting out after the 2019-20 season, which makes this year a hugely important one in keeping Nevada at a 25-win level. Fans will pay for a winning program. Fans will not pay for a .500 program.

The MW's top programs are Nevada, San Diego State, New Mexico, Utah State and UNLV (I guess), so let's compare those four.

Most expensive seats

1. Nevada, $5,000

2. New Mexico, $3,205

3. UNLV, $3,000 (not including Gucci Row, which comes with a "suggested" donation starting at $50,000)

4. San Diego State, $1,750 (courtside seat prices not listed)

5. Utah State, $1,125

Cheapest seats

1. Nevada, $299

2. New Mexico, $199

3. San Diego State, $199

4t. UNLV, $115

4t. Utah State, $115

Median seats

1. New Mexico, $1,112

2. Nevada, $1,100

3. San Diego State, $937.50

4. UNLV, $600

5. Utah State, $425

You can look at the ticket prices for each of the schools here: Nevada, SDSU, New Mexico, UNLV and Utah State. But Nevada basically has the MW's most expensive season tickets, although I'd note UNLV and New Mexico have far bigger arenas, so they can charge a little less per seat. SDSU's Viejas Arena is the closest in capacity to Lawlor Events Center at 12,414 (Lawlor is 11,536), and Nevada's prices are higher than SDSU's prices in basically every level.

In this cycle, the percentage increases did hit the cheapest areas the hardest. Plaza basket went from $199 to $299, an increase of 50.3 percent. Concourse went from $280 to $399, an increase of 42.5 percent. Outside of that, no other seats went up by more than 12 percent. Plaza basket and concourse mostly held firm the previous four seasons, so that area was spared from major increases in previous season. That wasn't the case this time. Concourse, in particular, has gone from $230 to $399 the last two years, an increase of 73.5 percent. That's pretty drastic. And most, if not all, of the first-time season-ticket holders last season were in the two sections mentioned above, so I can see a lot of folks in that area not renewing.

I'll end this section on Nevada basketball season-ticket prices by saying the community has largely done its part in supporting Wolf Pack basketball. The community bought season tickets at a record rate last season and posted the fifth-best attendance mark of any West Coast school in 2018-19. The donors also have done a good of supporting the program, with nearly three dozen people or companies kicking in to help fund Musselman's five-year, $5 million contract and also kicking in to hire a coach of Alford's caliber to replace him. I'm not sure I've seen the same investment from the university. To me, it must always been a three-pronged partnership to build and sustain a great program: fans, boosters and university. A lot of the financial weight is being put on the fans right now, and there's going to be a breaking point at some point (it's different for each fan). I wonder if Nevada has reached that breaking point with these latest increases.

I don't think he ever said that. He did say in his first two seasons on campus that Nevada's backups would beat the team's starters, but that was because he had players like Marcus Marshall, Jordan Caroline, Leland King and Sam Williams redshirting that first season and Caleb Martin, Cody Martin, Kendall Stephens and Hallice Cooke redshirting that second season. It's true those redshirting players would sometimes beat Nevada's first string in practice situations, which you'd assume given the talent level of those players.

As for part two of your question, the addition of Boston College graduate transfer Johncarlos Reyes doesn't impact Nevada's status in my preseason rankings or preseason tiers. Nevada remains in tier II behind Utah State, which means it could win the MW title but more likely will finish somewhere in the second-sixth area.

Johncarlos Reyes is a needed depth piece for the frontcourt. He was probably eighth or ninth on Nevada's list of bigs at the start of the recruiting cycle, so it wasn't ideal it got to this point, but he can give you 15-20 solid minutes per game. He was a pretty good prep prospect who didn't get a lot of run in ACC (just 8 minutes per game over the course of his career). Nevada needs defense out of its center position, and Reyes has the ability to provide that. He was a pretty good player as a freshman before he suffered a season-ending foot injury. He hasn't been able to get back to that level since then. But he has experience in one of the best conferences in the nation, so he should be a valuable player in the Mountain West. Given Nevada's frontcourt consisted of three first-year-eligible Division I players (K.J. Hymes, Zane Meeks, Robby Robinson III), getting a player like Reyes was key this offseason. He doesn't push Nevada into the Utah State tier, but he adds some insurance in case of injury and gives the team some experience and size up front.

Reyes is nothing like Kevin Panzer, who was a stretch power forward who came to Nevada as a freshman. Reyes is a traditional center who isn't going to be asked to stretch the floor and is a graduate transfer. Reyes is more appropriately compared to a guy like Chad Bell, who was a 7-foot transfer from New Mexico. Reyes doesn't have quite the size of Bell but he'll be asked to do a lot of the same stuff, which is play strong defense, set good screens, alter some shots at the rim and be a good teammate.

I see Reyes as a part-time starter who averages 15 minutes, 4.9 points and 3.9 rebounds per game while shooting 53 percent from the field.

I'm totally in favor of equal pay, but I do think the women's World Cup pay issue has been overblown. Or at least misunderstood by fans. Per Forbes, the last men's World Cup created $6 billion in revenue (paying out $400 million to participating teams). The year's women's World Cup is expected to create $131 million in revenue (paying out $30 million to participating teams). So women got 22.9 percent of the World Cup revenue while men got 6.7 percent of the World Cup revenue. If anything, the men should be upset with that lower cut. The women's World Cup creates 2.2 percent of the revenue created by the men's World Cup. Of course the women are not going to get as much money. It'd be like players in the Little League World Series asking for an equal amount of money as players in the real World Series. (And the Little League kids aren't getting any money. Can we at least give them future college scholarships?) We can argue whether players should be getting a larger chunk of the revenue, but the fact is one event creates a ton more revenue (nearly $5.88 billion more revenue) than the other, which means there are larger payouts in the men's World Cup. If I ran two newspapers and one created $6 billion a year and the other created $131 million, the workers wouldn't be paid the same.

No. This is better. The Lakers last year signed a bunch of "tough guys" who couldn't shoot, which is not how you win in the modern NBA. This year's Lakers is much better equipped to make a playoff run. For starters, they have Anthony Davis, who is a top-five talent in the NBA. But beyond him and LeBron James, the Lakers have actual depth and experience this season with Danny Green, Avery Bradley, Rajon Rondo, Quinn Cook, DeMarcus Cousins, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, Alex Caruso, Kyle Kuzma, Jared Dudley, Troy Daniels and JaVale McGee, who, of course, is the key to the season. Throw in rookies Talen Horten-Tucker and Zach Norvell Jr. and there is your roster with a couple of small tweaks. The Lakers are in a solid position, far better than last year. The crunchtime lineup of Rondo, LeBron, Green, Kuzma and Davis is much better than last year's crunchtime lineup Lonzo Ball, Josh Hart, Brandon Ingram, Kuzma and LeBron. Landing Kawhi Leonard would have been ideal, but the Lakers have championship potential if LeBron and Davis stay healthy. There's enough shooting around LeBron to win a lot of games.

Jordan Caroline has played two of the Lakers' five summer league games, missing three with a groin injury. He's played 29 minutes and tallied 12 points, seven rebounds, two steals, one assist and five turnovers while shooting 2-of-10 from the field (20 percent), 0-of-3 from three and 8-of-11 from the free throw line (72.7 percent). Kawhi Leonard basically nuked Caroline's chances of making the Lakers' roster. If Leonard signed with the Lakers, the team would have had to fill its roster with minimum-salary players. Instead, he went to the Clippers, and the Lakers sliced up that max salary spot on a bushel of role players to fill out the roster.

Cody Martin has appeared in two summer league games so far, averaging 23.5 minutes, nine points, four rebounds, one block, 0.5 steals, 0.5 assists and four turnovers per game. He's shot 6-of-14 from the field (42.9 percent), including 4-of-9 from three, while making 2-of-3 free throws. The turnovers are a little high, but he'll almost certainly make the Hornets' roster as the team used a second-round pick on him, although I could see him spending a good chunk of time in the G League.

Caleb Martin isn't going to play in the summer league because of a sore knee but he'll likely get a training camp invitation and I could see the Hornets keeping him from a marketing perspective, at minimum.

As noted above, it nukes those chances. Teams are allowed 15 players under regular contracts plus two two-way contracts. The Lakers have 13 players under regular contracts and one more signed to a two-way contract. It also has bought a second-round pick to draft Talen Horten-Tucker, who will either be a two-way guy or regular contract guy. That leaves just two spots, and with the Lakers in win-now mode, I imagine those positions will go to veterans looking to latch on for a shot at the title (guys like Kyle Korver and/or Andre Iguodala).

Poorly. Very poorly.

I shot 105, which was worse than my first time on the course when I shot 101. It didn't help that we played from the second longest set of tees (out of five). I have minimal length to my game since I slice everything horribly, which takes 30-40 yards off my drives. So playing 430- to 440-yard par-4s isn't great for my game. That being said, I played poorly (my handicap on a regular course is around 15-18) and deserved to score poorly. I did hit driver off 17, and I lost five balls, including two on the first hole, which I also did the first time I played the course. But when you're on a PGA Tour track, you can't have a bad time out there.

My preseason picks were here.

American League: East: Yankees, Central: Indians, West: Astros, Wild cards: Red Sox, Rays

National League: East: Phillies, Central: Cardinals, West: Dodgers, Wild cards: Nationals, Cubs

My picks now.

American League: East: Yankees, Central: Twins, West: Astros, Wild cards: Red Sox, Rays

National League: East: Braves, Central: Cardinals, West: Dodgers, Wild cards: Nationals, Cubs

So I'm swapping the Twins in for the Indians in the AL Central and the Braves in for the Phillies in the NL East and will keep the rest the same.

MVP: Mike Trout (AL), Cody Bellinger (NL) - I expect both to win it

Cy Young: Charlie Morton (AL), Hyun-Jin Ryu (NL) - I expect Justin Verlander (AL) and Max Scherzer (NL) to win

Rookie of the year: John Means (AL), Pete Alonso (NL) - I expect both to win, but Fernando Tatis Jr. (NL) is also great

Comeback player of the year: Lucas Giolito (AL), Willson Contreras (NL) - I don't care about this award

Coach of the year: Rocco Baldelli (Twins), Brian Snitker (NL) - I also don't care about this award

Peter Alonso over Alex Bregman. I drafted Alonso as a prospect in my keeper fantasy league draft this year, so I have to root for him. His power is unreal.

There's a chance Nevada holds a scholarship open for a mid-year transfer like Shamiel Stevenson last season (although the Wolf Pack sent Vincent Lee packing after one semester to make that one work), but I'm guessing it will use that scholarship before the season starts. My guess is it goes to some international big man I've never heard of that Nevada can try and develop of the years. The Wolf Pack could use more depth this season, although it is two deep across the board, but there's not much out there, so I'm guessing it will be a bit of a surprise signing. I'll go 80 percent chance Nevada is at the maximum of 13 scholarships by the time the season starts.

I don't think so. While Arizona has not announced his signing, Brown was recently seen on Arizona's campus, so he has presumably started school there, which would mean a transfer back to Nevada (if Arizona got roasted by the NCAA) would be impossible without him having to sit a season. I believe that ship has sailed. Brown is gone. Nevada got only 100 points and 70 rebounds out of the McDonald's All-American. He should have played more.

I do not know. Nevada has not released any of its schedule outside of the Mountain West games, although I've pieced together 11 of the 13 non-conference games. If I had to guess, Nevada will not play an exhibition game at the Old Gym, but that's purely a guess. The Wolf Pack did a lot of marketing stunts with Musselman that I doubt we see in the Alford era.

There is no "transfer window." A player can put his or her name in the NCAA transfer portal at any time. So there are baseball players currently in the portal. But baseball players have to sit out a season if they transfer (unless we're talking grad transfers), so it's not like you can get instant-impact help via that route.

Top five original NBA Jam duos (that's the 1993 version of the game):

1. Utah Jazz's Karl Malone and John Stockton

2. Houston Rockets' Hakeem Olajuwon and Kenny Smith

3. Phoenix Suns' Charles Barkley and Dan Majerle

4. Golden State Warriors' Tim Hardaway and Chris Mullin

5. San Antonio Spurs' David Robinson and Sean Elliott

Worst team - Milwaukee Bucks' Brad Lohaus and Blue Edwards

Notably, Michael Jordan and Gary Payton were not in the original version or the Bulls and Sonics would have been 1-2 in these rankings.

Joey Chestnut has won nine Nathan's Hot Dog Eating Contests in the last 10 years (and 12 out of the last 13), so he's your answer. Alabama football has only won five of the last 10 national titles. The U.S. women's soccer team has won two of the last three World Cups in that period. So, Chestnut has been the most dominant, albeit against less competition. I would argue Alabama's run has been the most impressive of the three.

Chestnut's record is 74 and he ate 71 to win this season. I'd put myself at 12. And I'm not using water to dip my buns into because that's gross.

I have no update. I also don't think the Mountain West gets even half of the annual value of the AAC deal (12 years, nearly $1 billion). My guess is the MW goes with the ESPN/CBS Sports Network combo again rather than plunging fully into a streaming-only situation, although commissioner Craig Thompson has been progressive. The conference created the mtn., which was the precursor to the SEC Network, Pac-12 Networks, etc. He was just a little early with that. If there's one commissioner who will buck the trend and sign a deal with Amazon or Google or Facebook it would be him. But I'm not sure the money is there to make that move work right now.

Probably Alex Margulies since he does all of our play-by-play, our Exploring Our Backyard features, co-hosts NSN Daily and does reporting, too. Versatility is key.

From UNR: "We do not yet know the cause of the explosion, which occurred at approximately 1 p.m. on Friday. The State Fire Marshal is conducting the investigation and we await his findings." A fire alarm was pulled after a small explosion in the basement of Argenta, which thankfully evacuated the building before the larger explosion damaged a large portion of the center of the building. Some Nevada student-athletes were being housed in that dorm, but they are all safe. In total, eight people were treated for minor injuries.

Adult beach = Secret Cove

Family Friendly = Sand Harbor

Snyder's of Hanover Honey Mustard & Onion Pretzels. It's basically crack.

I wrote the Mountain West football preview for Lindy's Magazine this year and had these Wolf Pack players on my All-MW first and second teams.

First team: RB Toa Taua, WR Kaleb Fossum, OL Jake Nelson

Second team: DE Dominic Peterson, LB Gabe Sewell, CB Daniel Brown, P Quinton Conaway

Players not on my first or second team who could earn such honors include: WR Romeo Doubs, WR Elijah Cooks, LB Lucas Weber and QB Malik Henry (if he wins the starting job).

I'll give Los Angeles one championship in the four major sports over the next calendar year. Yes, the Dodgers are the best team in baseball but the playoffs are kooky. Outside of the Patriots, who have some sort of deal with the devil, only one NFL team (Seattle in 2014 and 2015) has made it to back-to-back Super Bowls since 2000, so I'll count out the Rams. The Lakers and Clippers look strong, but a half-dozen teams have a shot of winning the NBA title. One seems like a good number for LA sports title in 2019-20, and I hope that one goes to the Dodgers.

No. I think you'll see a lot of position-less basketball this season as Jalen Harris, Jazz Johnson, Lindsey Drew and Eric Parrish are each capable of playing multiple positions, initiating offense and shooting threes, so those four are pretty interchangeable. Also, Nevada football ran quite a bit of its offense through the Pistol formation last season with some of Chris Ault's Pistol run plays being used, so that's kind of come back to a degree. I think Nevada is calling its offense the "Air Pistol" these days.

And I'll take Chex mix then cheese balls then beer nuts. See ya'll next week as I go look for said balls and nuts.

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