Sports Beat “Dickey deserved it”

Mets pitcher RA Dickey was a silver lining in yet another dark cloud of a season for our Flushing heroes. With little else to cheer for, Mets fans and the local media spent most of the second half of the 2012 season obsessing over Dickey’s chances winning the Cy Young Award, the honored bestowed by the Baseball Writers Association of America (BBWAA) to the best pitcher in the National and American Leagues.

Despite winning 20 games, Dickey faced formidable obstacles with respect to receiving baseball’s highest pitching honor. The BBWAA is a conservative body and they traditionally give out their season-ending prizes to personnel from winning teams. In addition, no  knuckleball pitcher had ever won the Cy Young Award. Too many sportswriters in the past believed that the knuckleball was a gimmick and that only traditional pitchers should be recipients of the Cy Young trophy.

It’s a credit to the BBWAA that they were able to overcome those old biases and come to the realization that RA Dickey winning 20 games for the Mets was the equivalent of a pitcher winning 30 games on a decent team.

RA not only helped his contract negotiations with the award but his publishing career as well. Last winter his autobiography, “Wherever I Wind Up” (Blue Rider Press) received great reviews and wound up on the New York Times best sellers list. In September I saw Dickey and his co-author, New York Daily News sportswriter Wayne Coffey, chatting by the Gil Hodges entrance of Citi Field. Dickey told me that they were discussing additional material for the paperback release slated for this coming March. Dickey’s 2012 dream season should make for a good addendum.

It wasn’t a pleasant homecoming for Indiana Pacers point guard Lance Stephenson and not just because he scored only four points and turned the ball over three times last Sunday at Madison Square Garden as the Knicks easily beat his team 88-76.

Lance was a high school star at Coney Island’s Abraham Lincoln High School and he led his team to a couple of PSAL titles. Coney Island sadly was not spared from Superstorm Sandy. “Yesterday I went to my aunt’s house where I grew up. Although the house sustained serious damage, it is habitable. I spent the day talking with FEMA officials and filling out paperwork with her,” he told me somberly in the Pacers locker room before the game.

Is it my imagination or does it seem as if Linsanity took place a decade ago? The Knicks 7-1 start certainly has quelled the consternation among the Knicks’ faithful about the team’s decision not to re-sign last season’s folk hero, Harvard alum Jeremy Lin. By the same token, whatever happened to the concern about the Knicks losing their star forward, Amar’e Stoudemire, for two months as he recovers from knee surgery?

Mets pitcher Johan Santana and team chief operating officer Jeff Wilpon were in Coney Island a few days before Lance Stephenson got there handing out supplies and food as part of the Sandy relief effort. The Mets’ NY-Penn League team, the Brooklyn Cyclones, play at Coney Island’s MCU Park. While there was significant flooding, the ballpark is structurally sound and should be ready for the 2013 season.

Nearly every New York sports team has contributed to relief and recovery efforts in our area. The Yankees made a $500,000 donation last week. Cablevision and Madison Square Garden Entertainment CEO James Dolan doubled that amount.

On a smaller yet still significant effort, the New York Islanders opened up the Nassau Coliseum and allowed fans to skate on the ice if they donated cash and/or food and supplies. The Islanders also held online auctions of memorabilia and fan experience packages (assuming the National Hockey League lockout gets resolved). Former Knicks public relations director Sammy Steinlight, who now his own PR firm in Manalapan, New Jersey, has started a website, www.jerseyshorerelief.com, whose mission is to help restore the Garden State’s coastal towns that were devastated by Sandy.

The Major League Baseball Alumni Association held their annual fund-rasing event to benefit youth baseball programs last week at the Marriott Marquis. Hall of Famer and Yankees great Dave Winfield reminisced about singing Rodgers and Hart’s “Manhattan” at the 1981 Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade. “I grew up in Minnesota but standing on that float lip-synching the lyrics was as cold as I’ve ever felt in my life,” said Winfield.

Dale Murphy was one of baseball’s most feared hitters in the 1980s and he was the National League’s Most Valuable Player in 1982 and 1983. Murphy finished his career with 398 home runs. I asked him if he ever thought of trying to make a comeback to get two more home runs. “It did cross my mind for a second! The sportswriters do look to benchmarks for electing players to the Hall of Fame and 400 does have a nice ring to it. I am hoping that the Veterans Committee will select me in the future,” said the always upbeat Murphy.

“The hardest part of an athlete’s life comes after he retires and is looking for direction. My company helps athletes cope when their playing careers come to an end. It’s a rough adjustment for many who don’t know what it’s like to earn a living outside of sports or to now have to spend more time than they’re used to with their families,” onetime Mets pitcher and Dartmouth alum Mike Remlinger told me.

Yes, there have been countless stories about athletes who wind up blowing their fortunes. Last month ESPN broadcast “Broke,” a documentary that had its debut at the 2012 Tribeca Film Festival that featured NFL wide receiver Andre Rison and others who couldn’t manage their money. Athletes who take their education as seriously as they do their sports can prosper when their careers are over.

A pair of former Mets, first baseman Mark Johnson and pitcher Frank Seminara, are making more money in the world of finance than they did as major leaguers. Johnson, like Remlinger is a Dartmouth grad, and is a securities broker in tony Greenwich, Connecticut for Weeden & Company after having worked for Goldman Sachs after being released by the Mets in 2002. Seminara, a Columbia alumnus, is a financial adviser for Morgan Stanley’s private wealth division in Florham Park, New Jersey located just a stone’s throw from the Jets training facilities. Seminara went to work for Smith Barney after getting released by Cubs at the end of spring training in 1996. The Mets ownership would have been wise to have turned to their former players for investing advice instead of a certain infamous Far Rockaway-born financier.

Nearly all of us will be stocking up on bottled water in the aftermath of Hurricane Irene. According to Anthony Fiorello, a marketing manager for Hint Water, a zero calorie-flavored

water brand, bottled water can be stored for up to five years without any health worries. “If it’s in a glass bottle it can stay for 20 years,” he added.

Now that the holiday season is upon us, look for the major department stores to launch television ad blitzes that will make us nostalgic for the political campaign ads of the just concluded election season. A recent marketing tactic for retail stores is to have celebrities front house clothing and jewelry lines. Kohl’s is using the former husband and wife team of Marc Anthony and Jennifer Lopez as well as former MTV reality star Lauren Conrad while Kmart is countering with “Modern Family” star Sofia Vergara and former Disney star Selena Gomez. Kmart is still using one of the first actresses to lend her name to clothing line, Jaclyn Smith of “Charlie’s Angels” fame. Not to be outdone, Macy’s has Jessica Simpson and Madonna and her daughter, Lourdes, for a dress line called, what else, Material Girl.

These days, shoes seem to be the new celebrities as Macy’s has spent a fortune in ads touting that it has the world’s largest shoe floor.

Jose Reyes must be glad that he rented an apartment in Miami instead of buying a place. Reyes was one of the big names traded from the Marlins to the Toronto Blue Jays last week as Marlins owner Jeffrey Loria, decided to dump every big contract that he could after the Marlins’ horrible 2012 season. The Marlins were so awful that they finished behind the Mets in the NL East standings.

New York’s Carlton Hotel, located on Madison Avenue & 29th Street, has just renovated a number of their suites to attract high rollers. Its penthouse suite has a Texas-sized biggest pool. The late Minnesota Fats would be proud.

At the annual International Hotel, Motel & Restaurant Show held at the Javits Center last week, the two major satellite television providers, DIRECTV and DISH Network, were competing for the business of lodging chains. The former was promoting its NFL Sunday Ticket package that allows a viewer to see every out-of-market game while the latter was playing up its extensive movie library.

Posted under Abraham Lincoln, Baseball Writers Association Of America, Bbwaa, Best Sellers List, Contract Negotiations, Cy Young, Cy Young Award, Decent Team, Dream Season, Gil Hodges, Indiana Pacers, Knuckleball Pitcher, Lance Stephenson, Lloyd Carroll, Madison Square Garden, Mets Fans, New York Mets, New York Times Best Sellers, New York Times Best Sellers List, Paperback Release, Ra Dickey, Top Story

Hall of Fame Catcher Gary Carter Dead at 57

The baseball world is mourning the passing of Gary Carter. The 57 year old former catcher died from brain cancer on Thursday, February 16.  An announcement was made by his daughter, Kimmy Bloomers on the website of his family at 4:10 pm.

In May 2011, it was publicly revealed that the baseball great had been diagnosed with brain cancer. Carter had been undergoing treatment for the disease since its discovery. In the third week of January, it was announced that Carter’s condition had worsened as additional tumors were found.

Despite the reality of his worsened health, Carter recently made a visit to his players at Palm Beach Atlantic University where he served as baseball coach for the past two years.

The Baseball Writers’ of America (BBWAA) awarded Carter its Milton/Arthur Richman Good Guy Award at its annual dinner in New York on January 21. As Carter was unable to travel from Florida to accept the honor, Carter’s award was accepted by his son, D.J. who read his father’s speech.

The speech was a testimonial to Carter’s feelings and connection to New York City, “I’ll always have a special place in my heart for the people and city of New York. I have nothing but fond memories of my time here in New York, highly lighted, of course, with the World Series championship in 1986. I still remember the feeling of riding in the World Series parade with over one million people lining the streets to celebrate our championship. The fans were always supportive of me and my family since my diagnosis of brain cancer in May of 2011.”

Although, Carter only played in New York with the Mets for five of his 19 seasons, those years are well remembered by the fans in New York. Carter was obtained before the 1985 season after playing a decade with the Montreal Expos, where he was one of the team’s most popular players.

Although “The Kid” was 31 years old when he came to the Mets and his personality and lifestyle did not mesh smoothly with some of the more raucous men on the squad, he was a vital part of the successful team. The Mets were World Series champs in Carter’s second year in New York. Carter contributed mightily to that World Series victory with nine runs batted in.

Large numbers of New York baseball fans, whether of the Mets or Yankees, remember with great fondness and respect, Carter’s outstanding years in the city. Lifelong Yankees fans Bill Stimers said of the Kid, “Carter turned the 1986 World Series around. He was a great player and a very fine person. We will always miss him. We pray for his family.”

Carter’s eventful years in New York ended as did the 80’s. He played the next two seasons in the state of his birth, California. He was with the San Francisco Giants in 1990 and in 1991 he played with the Los Angeles Dodgers.

He concluded his outstanding career in the majors in 1992 with the organization that drafted him 20 years earlier, the Montreal Expos. Carter once recalled his career’s end in Montreal, “It was a good way for my career to end going back to the team where my career originated.”

Carter performed admirably during two decades as a major leaguer. He scored 1,025 runs and hit safely 2,092 times in 2,296 games. The dependable power hitter blasted 324 homers and drove in 1,225 runs.

His impressive stats were not compiled through longevity alone but by his outstanding play on a yearly basis. In his rookie season, Carter was runner-up to hurler John Montefusco in the voting for the NL Rookie-of-the Year. The catcher was a National League All-Star in 11 seasons. His hitting earned him the Silver Slugger five times. His ability behind the plate was rewarded with a Gold Glove for three seasons.

The achievements of Carter’s career in baseball were rewarded by a place in the pantheon of heroes in Cooperstown, New York. Carter was inducted into the baseball Hall of Fame in the summer of 2003. He is the only player inducted into the HOF wearing an expos cap.

The devoted family man is survived by Sandy, his wife of my than 30 years, and three children, Christy, Kimmy and DJ.

Posted under Annual Dinner, Baseball Coach, Baseball World, Baseball Writers, Bbwaa, Bloomers, Brain Cancer, Fond Memories, Hall Of Fame, Mets, New York Mets, One Million, Place In My Heart, Richman, Series Parade, Top Story, Undergoing Treatment