Sports Beat “ Mets fans shouldn’t panic”

      Although it was a foregone conclusion that Mets ace pitcher Matt Harvey would need Tommy John surgery to repair damage on his pitching elbow and miss the entire 2014 season, many Mets fans on social media along with a good  number of sportswriters were acting as if they had just learned that the sky was falling. You would have thought these folks were expecting a parade down the Canyon of Heroes next November if Harvey were part of the Mets rotation in 2014.

      The success rate for Tommy John surgery is reportedly over 90%. Given Matt Harvey’s competitive nature, which probably breeds the arrogance that I wrote about a couple of weeks ago, I fully expect him to be as good, if not better, when he returns to the mound in 2015.

       Starting pitching is not really a problem for the Mets the way their anemic offense is.. Zack Wheeler, Jon Niese, and the incredibly underappreciated Dillon Gee. Carlos Torres came out of nowhere to pitch fairly well when Harvey got hurt back in August. Veteran Daisuke Matsuzaka was putrid in his first three starts with the Mets and then became unhittable. Fellow scrap heap pickup Aaron Harang pitched decently as well. They both merit serious consideration to be part of the 2014 Mets pitching staff.

The Amazin’s should also invite former ace Johan Santana to spring training assuming that he has not signed with another team now that his extremely lucrative deal with the team has finally expired. Santana missed the entire 2013 season recovering from shoulder surgery.

At this point Mets fans should be more worried about whether closer Bobby Parnell will be able to be his old self after he underwent neck surgery in August. Parnell visited the Mets clubhouse the last week of the season wearing a neck brace and said that he lost nearly thirty pounds. He said that his wife would have to do all of the driving between Queens and their off-season home in North Carolina.

The Mets bullpen was stretched quite thin last season and if the fourth and fifth starters turn out to be question marks in 2014 the team will have no choice but to fortify their corps of relievers.

The most pleasant relief pitching surprise for the Mets last year was the performance of 41 year-old LaTroy Hawkins who completed his 17th big league season. Hawkins was superb as both a setup man and as a closer after Parnell was placed on the disabled list. He was also a go-to guy for the media in the clubhouse as well as a mentor to younger pitchers. Mets general manager Sandy Alderson should reward him with a new contract with a salary upgrade.

*****

You have to wonder if Dusty Baker’s days as manager of the Cincinnati Reds were numbered when the Mets took two out of three games from them on their final road trip. The Reds were fighting for a playoff berth and dropping the series to the Mets helped cost them home field advantage for the wildcard game. The Pirates beat them 6-2 in that game at Pittsburgh’s PNC Park last Tuesday. Three days later the Reds fired Baker.

Paleyfest is an annual celebration of television shows that is normally held in Los Angeles. Given the large amount of television shows that are now being filmed here these days, Paleyfest made its New York debut last weekend at the Paley Center for Media which used to be known as the Museum of Broadcasting.

One of the shows that was feted was CBS’s Tuesday night procedural “Person Of Interest” that films a lot of its outdoor scenes in Queens and uses Long Island City’s Silvercup Studios for a number of its interior shots. The star of the series is Jim Caviezel who plays a mysterious ex-CIA agent who now acts as a guardian angel to the unsuspecting whose lives are in danger.

Caviezel’s big break came in a 1999 time-traveling film, “Frequency,” that was filmed in Astoria and had the 1969 Miracle Mets run to a World Series championship as a backdrop. The movie also looked at the lives of New York firefighters. “We used a lot of real-life NYFD members as consultants. Sadly, fourteen of them were killed in the line of duty on 9/11. I am still in touch with many of their family members,” Caviezel told me last Thursday.

New York Comic Con, the annual Javits Center comic book convention that makes its return from October 10-13, is further emulating its San Diego namesake, by becoming the place for television networks to showcase both recently debuted shows and those that will be coming on the air in mid-season. New York Comic Con has always been a rendevous spot for wrestling fans to meet their heroes from yesteryear. Among those who will be appearing this year are Hulk Hogan, Jerry “The King” Lawler, Jim “Hacksaw” Duggan, and Mick Foley.

Current World Wrestling Entertainment personality Mike “The Miz” Mizanin made an appearance at an unusual venue for him, the CSE Sports Marketing Symposium that brings out the movers and shakers of the sports business world such as NBC Sports CEO Mark Lazarus, Brooklyn Nets/Barclays Center CEO Brett Yormark, NFL senior vice president and Queens native Frank Supovitz, Sports Illustrated president Mark Ford and Gillette’s head of sports marketing, Greg Via. “The Miz” entered the conference room as if it were just another WWE arena for him as he stayed in villainous braggadocio form. “This conference isn’t adjourned until I say it is!” he boomed into a microphone. Mizanin then easily shifted out of character as he talked about the financial commitment the WWE is making to the Susan G. Komen Foundation whose mission is to fund research that will eradicate breast cancer.

The Brooklyn Nets held their 2013 media day last Monday and a huge throng of press came out primarily to hear what former Celtics Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce. Garnett showed a quick wit by reminding everyone that the “only reason (he put six o’s in front the world “only”) that he came to Brooklyn was to win a championship.” He also said that he had not spoken to Knicks forward Carmelo Anthony since their run-in last spring when he enraged him by saying that his wife, La La, smelled like Honey Nut Cheerios. I still have no clue what that means.

Paul Pierce, who played his entire fifteen year career in Boston, thanked the Nets organization for helping with nearly every aspect of relocation such as finding a home, schools for his kids, as well as medical professionals for his family.

Nets center Brook Lopez, the longest tenured member of the team, admitted that he couldn’t remember the last time that his team beat the Miami Heat. (They’ve lost 17 straight games to LeBron James, Dwyane Wade & Company) but agrees that the Nets need to beat them at least once during the regular season before anyone can truly start thinking of them as a potential NBA champions. Brook said that he was thrilled that old Nets head coach, Lawrence Frank, is back as an assistant to current head coach Jason Kidd.

Strangely enough Jason Kidd did not choose to speak with the press on Nets media day. My biggest concern when he was named Nets head coach was that he wouldn’t be comfortable schmoozing with the press which is a key part of the job. They have not been allayed.

Sports Illustrated showed a nice sense of humor by having its perennial swimsuit issue cover girl Kate Upton pose with Atlanta Braves siblings BJ and Justin Upton for the cover of last week’s baseball playoff preview issue. Kate was described as their “long lost cousin” on the cover.

WFAN’s Mike Francesa got priceless publicity this week through a YouTube parody created by Bill Buchanan who goes by the clever pseudonym Mike Zaun (I am surprised he did not choose Mike Dupp however.) Buchanan got in British redcoat regalia and did a spot-on impersonation of what Mike Francesa would have been like had he been doing radio in 1776 and the American Revolution were a sporting contest. “The rebels have no chance to win but if they want to have a chance they had better trust Benedict Arnold,” imagined a colonial Francesa who dismissed callers who supported George Washington’s guys.

When a current day caller asked Mike about the parody on Friday, he stayed in character and denied any knowledge of it claiming that he has never watched YouTube. My guess is that Francesa was merely remaining in character which he never deviates from on the air. When I have run into him outside of the WFAN studio he is far more approachable than his egomaniacal on-air persona. I have a feeling that privately Mike was laughing loudly at Buchanan’s video.

If you are looking for a good long weekend fall destination, Cooperstown, New York, home the National Baseball Hall of Fame, is a good choice. The rates at the historic Otesaga Hotel and its sister property, The Cooper Inn, are a fraction of what they are in the peak summer months. It’s a fine place to watch the fall foliage as well as enjoy some tasty apple cider from the many farms of central New York State.

The semi-annual Spa Week will be running from October 14-20 and many of the best spas in our area offer a variety of services such as massages for $50. For a listing of participants, log onto www.spaweek.com

Speaking of massages, give Greenwich Village’s Jade Hotel credit for attracting out-of-town participants for the November 3 ING New York City Marathon with packages that include pre-race pasta binges for dinner and post-race massages that should be welcomed by anyone who has just run over 26 miles.

Posted under Lloyd Carroll, New York Mets, Top Story

This post was written by Lloyd Carroll on October 11, 2013

Sports Beat “Mets Finish Third”

The Mets’ 3-2 come from behind victory last Sunday afternoon at Citi Field to close out the 2013 season meant that the team wound up in third place in the National League East with its 74-88 record. That wasn’t a cause for anyone to be popping champagne in the clubhouse but considering that many believed that the Mets would be battling the penurious Miami Marlins all season for the cellar this was a major accomplishment. Hardly anyone predicted that the Mets would finish ahead of the Philadelphia Phillies. Of course that is more of an indictment of an aging, overpaid ,and underperforming Phillies squad than it is a tribute to the Mets.

Nonetheless Mets manager Terry Collins, who rightfully received an extension on his contract Monday, sees finishing third as an important launching point for the 2014 Mets. “I told Sandy (Mets general manager Sandy Alderson) after we swept the Phillies down there last weekend that we were going to overtake them in the standings. This is important to us,” Collins said in his post-game press conference proudly.

It is a credit to Mets fans that Citi Field was sold out Sunday as one of the greatest players in the franchise’s history, Mike Piazza, was inducted in the team’s Hall of Fame.

Prior to the game Piazza, always the epitome of class, took the high road when asked about that other Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, New York. Even though he wasn’t named in the infamous Mitchell Report or in any Congressional hearings for using illegal steroids as a player, too many voting  members of the Baseball Writers Association of America (BBWAA) have taken a “guilty until proven innocent” approach to Piazza and other hitters who should be automatic inductees such as Jeff Bagwell.

“It’s a process and I understand that. It took Yogi Berra and Joe DiMaggio three times to get elected,” he told the media. I believe that Mike is right. Time should be an ally for him.

Last Friday the Mets brought a number of their top prospects to Citi Field for the Sterling Awards ceremonies that honor the best players in their farm system.

Allan Dykstra, a strapping 6’5″ first baseman who played for the Binghamton Mets, said that he was not related to disgraced former Mets centerfielder  Lenny Dykstra who served prison time for engaging in fraud. “I have never been contacted by Jim Cramer for stock market advice,” he said with a laugh.

Noah Syndergaard and Rafael Montero are the two top Mets pitching prospects. Noah admitted that he was nervous about meeting the New York press while Rafael said that he will try to learn English in his native Dominican Republic this winter.

*****

Congratulations to Mets second baseman and leftfielder Eric Young, Jr. who led the National League base stealing title with 46 stolen bases. It is a shame that the running game has gotten less important in the big leagues for reasons that I can’t fathom.

Two Mets minor leaguers who were not summoned to Flushing for Friday’s Sterling Awards were Savannah Sand Gnats outfielder Brandon Nimmo and Kingsport Mets shortstop Gavin Cecchini. Both are former first round picks in the amateur draft for the Mets. Hopefully that is not a red flag about their future chances of making it to the big club.

Kingsport Mets pitcher Robert Whalen was thrilled to be among the honorees. “I grew up a Mets fan in the Poconos. My dad is from Flushing while my mom grew up in Woodside,” he told me.

“Daily News Live” which is broadcast on SNY weekday afternoons at 5 PM is an occasional guilty pleasure for me. The show features select members of the News’s sportswriting staff. One writer who I have never seen on that show is Peter Botte who never shies away from asking the necessary tough questions at press conferences. He is also a fine writer.

Speaking of the Daily News, their local baseball columnist Andy Martino did a fine job subbing for SNY’s Kevin Burkhardt when he was doing an NFL telecast for Fox Sports a week ago.

Kevin Burkhardt has been doing in-game reports as well as pre and postgame work on SNY telecasts since the Mets cable home debuted in 2006. His NFL workload has increased significantly in recent years. My guess is that Fox Sports will work him into their baseball broadcasting team next spring. Kevin told me that he expects to be back on SNY but it wouldn’t surprise me if he is doing bigger and better things sooner rather than later.

Mets fans will miss the post-game giveaways that companies have to promote their products. I stocked up on Wise potato chips, Klondike ice cream bars, and bottles of Nesquik. I have to admit that chocolate milk, whether if be Nesquik, Hershey’s, or just fat-free milk mixed with Bosco Syrup brings out the little kid in me.

I am beginning to think that the Giants may not make the NFL playoffs.

Somehow Larry Ellison and his Oracle team’s victory in the America’s Cup did not seem to trigger an outburst of chest-thumping national pride. I guess yacht races are not appreciated by the hoi polloi. So Larry, in your honor I shout “USA!” USA!” “USA!”

“Saturday Night Live” made its season debut last weekend with six new cast members who are trying to replace such stalwarts as Fred Armisen, Jason Sudeikis and Bill Hader. The show wasn’t very good but longtime SNL viewers should treat the next five or six shows the way sports fans treat preseason games. You have to let the cast and its writers experiment and make their share of  mistakes.

One positive is that Beck Bennett, best known for those terrific “It’s Not Complicated” AT&T ads in which he solicits opinions from pre-K kids, is part of the new SNL troupe. The big negative is the lack of ethnic diversity in the cast of new players.

NBC won a rare head-to-head matchup with CBS last Monday at 10 PM in a battle of new shows when its “Blacklist,” which is clearly inspired by “Silence of the Lambs,” easily bested CBS’s “Hostages.” It wasn’t that the majority of TV viewers favored “Blacklist” star James Spader over “Hostages” leading man Dylan McDermott. It’s just that “Hostages,” which deals with a rogue FBI agent who wants the President to die, requires the viewers to commit to all 15 episodes since each week’s episode picks up where last week’s ends. On the other hand each episode of “Blacklist” stands on its own and therefore you can still enjoy it even if you miss the previous week’s show. CBS may learn a painful lesson that cable viewers commit more to their favorite shows on a weekly basis than broadcast network watchers do.

Ski Magazine named Wyoming’s Jackson Hole Mountain Resort as its top resort for the upcoming snow sport season.

Most people know that aloe vera is used for healing a variety of skin problems. What is not as well known is that aloe vera can be enjoyed as a beverage that contains many amino acids and anti-oxidants that boost health for both one’s digestive and immune systems. A Dallas company, The Aloe Source, has produced a tasty drink, Strawberry Kiwi Aloe Vera Nutritional Drink, which purports to have all of these benefits.

Last week I mentioned that the fall is a time for a number of interesting festival and expositions that take place in New York City. I neglected to mention that both the 51st annual New York Film Festival and the cutting edge music showcase, the CMJ Festival, are taking place this month.

Posted under Lloyd Carroll, New York Mets, Top Story

This post was written by Lloyd Carroll on September 30, 2013

Sports Beat “Self-absorbed Matt”

In yet another dreary Mets season Matt Harvey gave Mets fans a number of thrills this season such as pitching two scoreless innings as the starting pitcher in the 2013 All-Star Game played at Citi Field this past July. You would have to go back nearly 30 years to Dwight Gooden’s heyday to find a Mets pitcher who could dominate opposing hitters at will.

He was such a big story that Jimmy Fallon used him for a hilarious “man in the street” bit to see how many New Yorkers could recognize him. ESPN Magazine put him on the cover in the buff for its July “body issue” while Men’s Journal ran a feature on him that made it clear that he was thoroughly enjoying the trappings of being a handsome, young New York celebrity.

Last month Mets fans’ collective spirits took a dive when it was diagnosed that Harvey’s pitching elbow suffered a tear and that it was probable that he would miss the 2014 season. It would be a certainty if he elected to have surgery something that he understandably is hoping to avoid although it seems inevitable that he will need a procedure.

Given that Harvey has been a hero to beleaguered Mets fans, combined with the fact that his future is clearly in jeopardy, many of the media who cover the team have been reticent to report that he has been rather unapproachable in the clubhouse for a good chunk of the season and that you were lucky to get a one-word response to questions if he did deign to talk to you.

Harvey’s arrogance would certainly have gone unreported by me had he not made a jerk out of himself last Wednesday when he agreed to be a guest on Dan Patrick’s NBC Sports Network Show. Instead of answering Patrick’s questions about his pitching arm issues, Harvey insisted on shilling, rather inarticulately I might add, for the cellular telephone chip manufacturer, Qualcomm. Dan understandably skewered him after the interview was over.

In contrast, McDonald’s did things right last Tuesday when it brought in Giants wide receiver Victor Cruz for a press event at their Times Square restaurant to promote their new Mighty Wings snack. Cruz is a commercial endorser for McDonald’s but he gamely took questions about the Giants’ 0-2 start from the attending press.

The personable Cruz is one of the few Hispanic sports to land a bevy of national endorsement deals. He has done TV and magazine ads for Time Warner Cable, Gillette, and Advil as well as raking in big bucks from Nike for wearing their apparel. Even the great Mariano Rivera never landed the lucrative corporate contracts that Victor Cruz has.

New York City’s official tourism bureau, NYC and Company, owes  MLB scheduling committee and the good folks from the Bay Area a lot of thanks. Thousands of visitors from Northern California came to New York this past week for the sole purpose of seeing the Giants play the Mets at Citi Field (the Mets’ accounting department was delighted since the place would have been a ghost town otherwise) and the Yankees in the Bronx.

The Queens Economic Development Council, which had a booth at the US Open, to inform visitors of what Queens has to offer, should do the same in front of Citi Field. Queens has terrific restaurants that are just as good, if not better, and far less expensive than those in Manhattan. Yet the vast majority of out-of-town visitors attending a sporting event don’t know that. If nothing else, the QEDC should be visible when the Phillies come into play the Mets next year because a lot of fans drive in from Philadelphia and its suburbs to see their team at Citi Field. They have already paid the high parking charges so they might as well get their money’s worth by walking over the Roosevelt Avenue Bridge to Flushing and try one of its many fine dining establishments.

It wasn’t that long ago that the San Francisco Giants drew even fewer fans than the Mets do for a game. A great deal of the credit for the turnaround has to go to the team’s CEO, Lawrence Baer, who was instrumental in getting AT& T Park built in San Francisco and then putting together a team that won two World Series in the last three years. Baer is the rare baseball executive who enjoys schmoozing with the media and with fans. Mets chief operating officer Jeff Wilpon could learn a lot by observing him. Perhaps Jeff’s dad, Mets owner Fred Wilpon, could make a call to Baer to arrange for Jeff to have an internship with him.

I asked Baer about the team that plays across San Francisco Bay from his, the Oakland Athletics, and their quest to get a new stadium. Baer and the Giants are not happy that the A’s want to move south to San Jose where the Giants have a minor league team there and they consider it to be their territory. The city of San Jose is suing Major League Baseball for their attempts to prevent the A’s from moving there.

Baer could not comment on this pending litigation but he did not disagree with my assessment that the A’s would be better off building a new ballpark on Oakland’s sizable waterfront that is well-served by mass transit. The A’s would be rolling the dice moving 50 miles from their current home in the hopes of tapping into the Silicon Valley corporate world.

The Mets’ cable outlet, SNY, made a big deal in advance of Jerry Seinfeld’s guest analyst gig last Tuesday night that lasted a paltry four innings. Except for one joke about surgeon to star athletes Dr. James Andrews who gets a lot of press attention even when he just offers an opinion, Jerry did not bring much to the table. Seinfeld, a  Queens College alum, did not meet with the media and his bodyguards got him out of Citi Field as quickly as possible by interacting with as few people as possible.

Under Armour, the Baltimore-based sports apparel company, continues to chip away at Nike’s dominance in the marketplace. St. John’s University announced this week that Under

Armour will be the official supplier of uniforms for its sports teams for the next six years.

With both leisure time and disposable income becoming increasingly more difficult for Americans, destination and resorts are competing harder for attention. California’s San Luis Obispo County took out a booth at the GBK Lounge in Manhattan’s Empire Hotel during Fashion Week while the Puerto Rico Tourism Company did the same at the US Open. Last Monday, the Blue Lagoon Resort in Iceland, the European country located closest to the USA, held a reception for travel agents and the press in midtown Manhattan.

The weather is still warm and sunny but we all know that the cold weather isn’t far behind. Ski Vermont, the private consortium that markets that state’s many ski resorts, was in town Thursday week to promote the fact that nearly all of the resorts there will be offering bargain lodging and ski lessons in January to beginners. Many ski lodges, including Killington and Stowe Mountain will be making their own snow as early as November. Sugarbush is offering an unlimited ski pass without any blackout dates to those under 30 for $299. The Trapp Family Lodge in Stowe (yes, the same von Trapp family of “Sound of Music” fame) still offers the best in cross-country skiing and they are opening an Austrian lager brewery. They hope to ship can and bottles to retailers all over the world by next year.

Consumer Reports is great when it comes to comparing high ticket items such as cars, computers, and refrigerators, and on occasion they touch smaller priced items. If you want to find out the best-rated in everyday items such as snacks, paper goods, soaps, oral care products, and cleaning supplies, log onto www.productoftheyearusa.com . A research company, TNS, surveys a scientific sampling of 50,000 consumers to get the results.

Posted under Cellular Telephone, Chip Manufacturer, Dwight Gooden, Heyday, Lloyd Carroll, Man In The Street, Mets Fans, New York Mets, Qualcomm, Scoreless Innings, Shilling, Starting Pitcher, Top Story, Trappings, Word Response

Sports Beat “WFAN Boots Mets”

There has been a lot of guessing as to which station will broadcast the Mets next year with the ESPN or WOR being the most likely suitors. While either outlet would probably pay the Mets the $6-$7 million that WFAN was, there may be a more profitable alternative for the team.

Mets executives should look into buying broadcast time on WBBR (1130 AM) which has a strong 50,000-watt signal. Local sports fans have gotten to know WBBR as the place to hear their favorite team if there is a conflict such as when ESPN is broadcasting a Knicks game and there is a Rangers game taking place as well or when WFAN is broadcasting a Devils game and the Nets are playing simultaneously.

By purchasing the time from WBBR, the Mets can keep all of the advertising revenue that they can generate. It would also help if they could have a winning season for a change.

In a season full of low points, the Mets may have reached a new low on Sunday in a game that they wound up winning. The Mets’ offense was its usual anemic self against the Miami Marlins who have a far worse record than the Mets. There was no score going into the bottom of the twelfth inning.

Shockingly, the Mets loaded the bases with nobody out. Certainly even they would find a way to finally get a run across. That quickly appeared to be wishful thinking as Zach Lutz hit into a weak force play at the plate and the following batter, Andrew Brown, did the same. Instead of boos there was derisive laughter coming from the stands. I have heard many sarcastic  Bronx cheers at a ballpark but I can’t remember hearing so many fans laughing at their favorite team as if they were watching a Mel Brooks movie. Fortunately catcher Travis d’Arnaud hit a ground ball that snuck past the shortstop’s glove for a game-winning single to spare the Mets further humiliation.

After the game I asked manager Terry Collins if his team’s offensive ineptitude and the fans’ chuckling was dispiriting. “Well, we had four rookies in the lineup today and you have to look at the process. For example, if they are working the count and swinging at good pitches,” he said. It is hard to blame Collins for setting the bar as low as possible given the talent that he has at his disposal.

Davey Johnson, who was the manager when the Mets won their second and last World Series championship in 1986, and is currently the Washington Nationals manager will be leaving from that post at the end of the season. Although he is 70, Johnson insists that he is not retiring and would like to manage in the Australia. “I have always been intrigued by Australia and I have never been there,” he told me.

Johnson was an early adapter of using computers to assist in making strategic baseball decisions. “I studied those old programming languages FORTRAN and COBOL,” said Davey who has a bachelor’s degree in mathematics from Trinity University. He offered a sympathetic laugh when I told him of the frustrations that I had with those old keypunch input cards that FORTRAN required back in the late 1970s.

PBS broadcast a superb documentary last week on Billie Jean King to coincide with the 40th anniversary of her “battle of the sexes” match against 55 year-old Bobby Riggs that was held at the Astrodome in Houston. The United States Tennis Association had a terrific exhibit on the match that truly put women’s tennis on the map at the American Express pavilion at the recent US Open.

It is a long season so Giants fans should not despair that their team lost the Manning Bowl last Sunday and are now 0-2. Now if they lose next week in Charlotte to the Carolina Panthers I give Big Blue fans permission to start panicking.

The general consensus was that the Buffalo Bills, who have more serious quarterback issues than even the Jets do, would be the one team in the AFC East that the Jets would finish ahead of in the standings.

The Bills are not going to be pushovers when the Jets face them at MetLife Stadium this Sunday. Like the Jets, they lost a close one to the New England Patriots and this past Sunday they edged out Cam Newton and the Carolina Panthers, 24-23.

Jets QB, rookie Geno Smith, by very definition, is a work in progress. He is going to have to get more receptions from wide receivers Stephen Hill and Clyde Gates, neither of whom has proven to be a big playmaker. It would also help if Santonio Holmes’ foot was healthy this Sunday.

The annual New York Bar & Restaurant Show held at the Javits Center, always one of my favorite trade shows to attend, rebranded itself with a new name this year, the Holiday Buying Show. The majority of exhibitors are small spirits companies that are looking to make a name for themselves such as a Greek liquer company, Ya Mastiha, and a Minnesota- based alcohol manufacturer, Phillips Distilling.

There was no shortage of vodka companies. Golia, a vodka made in little-known Mongolia, is trying to establish name recognition by having lounges at both the Prudential Center for New Jersey Devils games and at Philadelphia’s Wells Fargo Center for Flyers and 76ers contests. My favorite-named liquor company was Balls Vodka whose owner, Yoav Sisley prides himself on being a big sports fan.

Every year it seems like New York Fashion Week is less about clothing and more about celebrities and lifestyle products. For example, Oklahoma City Thunder guard Russell Westbrook, who is one of the NBA’s elite players, was visible at a number of runway shoes. While he may sincerely enjoy the world of fashion my guess is that he wants to raise his profile for corporate endorsement consideration before the NBA season gets underway. He is well aware that he is at a disadvantage playing his home games in the NBA’s smallest market.

Among the other companies that set up splashy booths around town during Fashion Week were Pilot Pens who showed off their erasable gel rollers, Ebay; Pinch Me, a company that purports to send free samples to those who give them data over the Internet; Birchbox, a subscription service that delivers a monthly surprise box of products for men and women; and Skinny Girl, one of many low calorie energy health bars that try to get recognition at Fashion Week. And of course, as per tradition, Mercedes-Benz showed its latest models at Lincoln Center.

New York Fashion Week is normally the kickoff of autumn festivals in New York. Coming up next week is Advertising Week. That will be followed by New York City Wine & Food Festival, the CMJ Music Festival, New York Comic Con (which is not related to the famous summer San Diego entertainment confab although like its West Coast counterpart does cover a lot of pop culture), and a pair of television festivals, Paley Fest and the New York Television Festival.

Posted under Advertising Revenue, Broadcast Time, Force Play, Lloyd Carroll, Mel Brooks, Mets, New York Mets, Rookies, Shortstop, Top Story, Watt Signal, Weak Force, Wor

Sports Beat – Defending Bobby V

Former Mets manager Bobby Valentine stirred things up when he complained that the Yankees did not reach out to their community in the days following September 11, 2001. There is little argument that Yankees players and ownership did reach out to responders and to those whose lives were uprooted at the time.

Bobby was probably still steaming about a 2004 HBO Sports documentary, “Nine Innings From Ground Zero,” which spent the lion’s share of the time concentrating on the Yankees playoffs and seven-game nail-biting World Series loss to the Arizona Diamondbacks in the fall of 2001 and how that helped cheer up New Yorkers needing a diversion. The Mets barely rated a three-minute mention in it from what I remember even though Valentine and his players spent a lot of time preparing boxes of food and supplies. Shea Stadium was used as an emergency center for first responders because of its sizable parking lot which Yankee Stadium lacked.

I spoke with Mets outfielder Mike Baxter about his memories of that cataclysmic day on the twelfth anniversary of 9/11. “ I was in an Advanced Placement Psychology class at Archbishop Molloy High School when the planes hit the World Trade Center. No one could believe what was happening,” the Whitestone native recalled.

Just in case anyone was starting to forget about terrorism in 2013, the Boston Marathon bombing was a jolting reminder. The evil allegedly done by the Tsarnaev brothers did not escape the attention of the National Football League. Fans are now prohibited from bringing most bags into stadiums as the NFL will only allow transparent bags for your necessities.

This is a case of overreaching in my opinion. Why can’t security personnel check all bags as they have done in the past? Evildoers will always find ways to commit nefarious acts even with see-through totes.

New Jersey Devils press box announcer Richard Nashmy was ahead of the curve and created a line of durable, thick-polymer clear vinyl tote bags in various sizes a few years ago. If you are planning on going to a Jets or Giants game this year you should check out his company’s website, www.carryitclearly.com.

It’s another meaningless September for the Mets. The fact that they never really had any post-season aspirations this year is the least of their problems. Even if Matt Harvey, David Wright and Ike Davis had stayed healthy the entire season the best that Mets fans could probably hope for would have been third place in the NL East. Nonetheless the weakling lineup that the Mets put together for their four-game series against the Washington Nationals at Citi Field during their last homestand was arguably the most impotent in their history. The Nats did not break a sweat in sweeping the Mets but that wasn’t what was humiliating. During the four games they hit a total of 13 homers while the mighty Mets hit a grand total of 0.

It is no wonder that CBS Radio executives have had their fill of the Mets and were delighted to announce that the Yankees would be replacing them next year on WFAN. The Yankees have always been the more popular team in New York and the Mets’ ineptitude since 2006 has only widened the gap.

Some are wondering about whether CBS is making the right decision since the Mets appear to have more exciting young talent than an aging Yankees team does. My answer to that is to ponder the following. If someone offered you $10,000 to invest in a long-term stock fund, would you choose one that was run by Hal Steinbrenner, Lonn Trost, Randy Levine and Brian Cashman or one that was headed by Jeff Wilpon and Sandy Alderson?

The Jets are probably not going to make the playoffs this year but rookie QB Geno Smith has given Gang Green fans a flicker of hope. Yes, he throws occasional interceptions, misses open receivers, and stays in the pocket holding the football a bit long at times, but he is exciting to watch. He led the Jets to that fluke Opening Day win against Tampa Bay when Bucs defensive end Lavonte David stupidly hit him out of bounds with scant seconds left on the clocks and the Jets were out of timeouts. That late hit penalty set up Nick Folk’s 48-yard game winner.

Although the Jets lost as usual to the New England Patriots a few days later, the score was close (13-10) and Smith was every bit the equal of his counterpart, Tom Brady, that night.

While Jets fans are probably thrilled with Geno, it still would have been better if Mark Sanchez were healthy. When head coach Rex Ryan writes his memoirs he will have to reveal why he put Sanchez into the fourth quarter of a meaningless preseason game with the Giants when the Jets had their third stringers in there. It is not surprising that Sanchez got hurt in that situation and will probably miss the entire 2013 season.

The recently concluded Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week always brings out some sports celebrities. Rangers goalie Henrik Lundqvist and Knicks forward Amar’e Stoudemire are regulars. Two weeks ago OKC Thunder All-Star guard Russell Westbrook made the fashion scene as he was undoubtedly trying to elevate his profile for commercial endorsements.

My favorite moment from Fashion Week was being greeted by a pair of Philadelphia Eagles cheerleaders at the GBK Lounge at the Empire Hotel. The girls were modeling their new skimpy uniforms that were designed by Vera Wang.

Fox Sports 1 has done a nice of getting out of the ratings gate strong. The wannabe chief competitor to ESPN raided Bristol for a pair of its popular female personalities, Erin Andrews and Charissa Thompson. Both ladies are fine sports anchors but there is no doubt that Fox executives are hoping that the “babe factor” will deliver male viewers. Will Sage Steele be jumping ship next?

Posted under Archbishop Molloy High School, Arizona Diamondbacks, Bobby Valentine, Hbo Sports, League Fans, Lloyd Carroll, Manager Bobby Valentine, Mets Outfielder, Mike Baxter, Molloy High School, National Football League, New York Mets, Nine Innings, Placement Psychology, Psychology Class, September 11 2001, Shea Stadium, Thick Polymer, Top Story, Transparent Bags, Twelfth Anniversary, Yankee Stadium

Sports Beat “Jay gets his day”

Bobblehead doll giveaways have long been popular promotions at ballparks. Normally the souvenir is a likeness of a current or former player. Tomorrow the Mets will probably have what has to be a first as they will be giving all who come to Citi Field a bobblehead of their longtime public relations director Jay Horwitz.

I have known Jay since 1980. Yes, we’ve had some disagreements over the years and some of the arguments have been heated, but to Jay’s credit, he has always been willing to listen; hasn’t held grudges; and most importantly, has given me the access that I need.

There is no doubt that Jay will be enshrined into the Mets Hall of Fame when he retires but that won’t be for another 30 years. Congratulations, Jay!

The most important aspect of Jay Horwitz Bobblehead Day is that a portion of the ticket revenue will be earmarked for the Hope Shines for Shannon Foundation. Shannon Forde, a St. John’s University alumnus, has been working in the Mets media relations department for 20 years. In 2012 she was diagnosed with Stage 4 breast cancer. The costs associated with fighting that insidious disease are staggering. Amazingly, Shannon continues to work with enthusiasm and vigor while raising a family.

The National Hockey League announced that a pair of games involving the three local teams will be played at Yankee Stadium during Super Bowl week. The Devils will play the Rangers in one game while the Islanders take on the Blueshirts in the other. The Rangers will be the visiting team in both contests.

It makes sense that the Devils game would take place at Yankee Stadium since it’s located very close to the GW Bridge, I find it disgraceful that the NHL has turned up its nose at Citi Field.

While I understand the economies of scale of having two games at one venue, Citi Field is adjacent to the Islanders’ Nassau/Suffolk fan base. Queens has more Islanders fans than any other borough including Brooklyn where the team will be moving in 2015. It also would have created more buzz for the NHL to utilize both of New York’s ballparks.

The US Open gets underway at the Billie Jean King National Tennis Center on Monday but you can catch some quality tennis there today and tomorrow for free as the US Open Qualifying Tournament for a number of wild card spots will be taking place.

The PGA Tour makes its annual stop in our area as the Barclays Tournament will take place at Liberty State Park Golf Course today through Sunday. There will be free shuttle buses running from the Pavonia PATH stop in Jersey City.

Posted under Blueshirts, Director Jay, Economies Of Scale, Fan Base, Forde, Grudges, Gw Bridge, Hall Of Fame, Insidious Disease, Lloyd Carroll, National Hockey League, New York Mets, No Doubt, Public Relations Director, S University, Stage 4 Breast Cancer, Ticket Revenue, Top Story, Two Games, University Alumnus, Yankee Stadium

Sports Beat “Wright’s injury hamstrings Mets”

Mets fans emitted a collective groan last Friday seeing David Wright writhe in pain after running hard to first base in the tenth inning of yet another extra inning game for the Amazin’s. The immediate diagnosis was that Wright had a suffered a pulled hamstring in his right leg.

Unlike in past years when Mets management would delay putting players on the disabled list in the hopes of some overnight miraculous recovery which never happened, Wright was immediately placed on the 15-day disabled list. The immediate consensus however was that he would not be playing again until early September.

You can’t blame the Mets for being cautious with their superstar. Although he is younger than Derek Jeter, the team does not want to risk having their captain try to return to duty only to watch him reinjure himself the way the Yankees captain did. Unlike the Yankees, the Mets have no shot at playing in the post-season so it makes total sense for Mets executives to be ultra conservative when it comes to handling their best player who earns $20 million annually.

The silver lining about Wright’s injury is that it opened up a roster spot for outfielder and Whitestone native Mike Baxter who was unfairly sent down to the Mets’ Las Vegas AAA affiliate in June when team executives reached their patience level with struggling first baseman Ike Davis. General manager Sandy Alderson wanted to make it look like he was instituting a team shakeup to lessen the spotlight on Davis’s failure.

Alderson and manager Terry Collins were infatuated with the alleged talents of young outfielder Jordany Valdespin to Baxter’s detriment. While Valdespin did deliver a few clutch pinch hits, he infuriated teammates with his hot-dogging style which included standing at home plate marveling a home run he swatted in the ninth inning. If that wasn’t bad enough, his team was losing 7-1 at the time which is not exactly a great time for showmanship.

The next day, to no one’s surprise, a Pirates pitcher hit him in the back. Jordany publicly sulked because his teammates did not storm the field in his defense and even seemed to back the Pirates’ decision to nail him.

Valdespin was eventually demoted to the Las Vegas 51s. Last week, word came back that he was back to his old tricks as he stood in the batter’s box admiring a home run he swatted against the Sacramento River Cats. The opposing pitcher naturally drilled Valdespin the next time he batted.  This time however he got support as his manager, fiery Wally Backman, led Valdespin’s teammates onto the field for a brawl to show support. Both Valdespin and Backman drew one-game suspensions. The word is that Sandy Alderson wasn’t very happy.

*******

The Time Warner Cable-CBS dispute is the latest battle between a television network and a cable/satellite provider when it comes to carriage rights fees.

Time Warner Cable claims that it shouldn’t have to pay CBS to air its programs because it’s a broadcast network that airs its shows to the public for free. CBS argues that Time Warner Cable pays cable networks such as ESPN $6 per subscriber and that puts it at a disadvantage when negotiating sports rights fees. CBS is still smarting at how ESPN was able to outbid it for US Open rights beginning in 2015.

Time Warner removed CBS-owned stations from its lineup last Friday at 5 PM even though the Tiffany Network was willing to have its shows air over TWC systems while the two sides were negotiating.

Why was Time Warner Cable so eager to pull the plug on CBS? My guess is that TWC executives figured that August is the slowest time in the television industry since primetime shows are generally in repeats and that there are few marquee sports events.

In terms of using a prize fight as an analogy, Time Warner Cable executives were hoping to score an early knockout and have CBS settle on terms favorable to their side. If this dispute is not settled by early next month, CBS will get the upper hand for the middle rounds because it has the rights to National Football League games. They would really be in the driver’s seat if the New York Jets had a decent team but that will not be the case in 2013.

If things were to really drag on through late September it would be a draw because CBS needs distribution for its fall primetime shows to succeed while Time Warner would certainly lose a lot of customers to upstart challenger Verizon Fios if viewers can’t see their old favorites or be denied the opportunity to discover the network’s new shows.

The last time Time Warner Cable customers lost a favorite channel was when the company and MSG Networks could not agree on a deal and the channels that broadcast Knicks, Rangers, Islanders, and Devils games were pulled for 48 days. Both MSG and TWC ran acrimonious ads accusing one another of outrageous greed and negotiating in bad faith. Today Time Warner Cable is a major sponsor at Madison Square Garden. Go figure.

I wonder if former Pittsburgh Steelers head coach Bill Cowher has offered to arbitrate this dispute since he is both an NFL analyst for CBS Sports and a spokesman for Time Warner Cable as is evident from those annoying ubiquitous commercials.

Posted under Aaa Affiliate, Amazin, Collective Groan, David Wright, Derek Jeter, Early September, First Baseman, Hamstrings, Inning Game, Lloyd Carroll, Mike Baxter, Miraculous Recovery, New York Mets, Ninth Inning, Patience Level, Pinch Hits, Sandy Alderson, Showmanship, Top Story, Writhe In Pain

This post was written by Lloyd Carroll on August 4, 2013

Tags: , , , , ,

Sports Beat “Wright’s injury hamstrings Mets”

Mets fans emitted a collective groan last Friday seeing David Wright writhe in pain after running hard to first base in the tenth inning of yet another extra inning game for the Amazin’s. The immediate diagnosis was that Wright had a suffered a pulled hamstring in his right leg.

Unlike in past years when Mets management would delay putting players on the disabled list in the hopes of some overnight miraculous recovery which never happened, Wright was immediately placed on the 15-day disabled list. The immediate consensus however was that he would not be playing again until early September.

You can’t blame the Mets for being cautious with their superstar. Although he is younger than Derek Jeter, the team does not want to risk having their captain try to return to duty only to watch him reinjure himself the way the Yankees captain did. Unlike the Yankees, the Mets have no shot at playing in the post-season so it makes total sense for Mets executives to be ultra conservative when it comes to handling their best player who earns $20 million annually.

The silver lining about Wright’s injury is that it opened up a roster spot for outfielder and Whitestone native Mike Baxter who was unfairly sent down to the Mets’ Las Vegas AAA affiliate in June when team executives reached their patience level with struggling first baseman Ike Davis. General manager Sandy Alderson wanted to make it look like he was instituting a team shakeup to lessen the spotlight on Davis’s failure.

Alderson and manager Terry Collins were infatuated with the alleged talents of young outfielder Jordany Valdespin to Baxter’s detriment. While Valdespin did deliver a few clutch pinch hits, he infuriated teammates with his hot-dogging style which included standing at home plate marveling a home run he swatted in the ninth inning. If that wasn’t bad enough, his team was losing 7-1 at the time which is not exactly a great time for showmanship.

The next day, to no one’s surprise, a Pirates pitcher hit him in the back. Jordany publicly sulked because his teammates did not storm the field in his defense and even seemed to back the Pirates’ decision to nail him.

Valdespin was eventually demoted to the Las Vegas 51s. Last week, word came back that he was back to his old tricks as he stood in the batter’s box admiring a home run he swatted against the Sacramento River Cats. The opposing pitcher naturally drilled Valdespin the next time he batted.  This time however he got support as his manager, fiery Wally Backman, led Valdespin’s teammates onto the field for a brawl to show support. Both Valdespin and Backman drew one-game suspensions. The word is that Sandy Alderson wasn’t very happy.

*******

The Time Warner Cable-CBS dispute is the latest battle between a television network and a cable/satellite provider when it comes to carriage rights fees.

Time Warner Cable claims that it shouldn’t have to pay CBS to air its programs because it’s a broadcast network that airs its shows to the public for free. CBS argues that Time Warner Cable pays cable networks such as ESPN $6 per subscriber and that puts it at a disadvantage when negotiating sports rights fees. CBS is still smarting at how ESPN was able to outbid it for US Open rights beginning in 2015.

Time Warner removed CBS-owned stations from its lineup last Friday at 5 PM even though the Tiffany Network was willing to have its shows air over TWC systems while the two sides were negotiating.

Why was Time Warner Cable so eager to pull the plug on CBS? My guess is that TWC executives figured that August is the slowest time in the television industry since primetime shows are generally in repeats and that there are few marquee sports events.

In terms of using a prize fight as an analogy, Time Warner Cable executives were hoping to score an early knockout and have CBS settle on terms favorable to their side. If this dispute is not settled by early next month, CBS will get the upper hand for the middle rounds because it has the rights to National Football League games. They would really be in the driver’s seat if the New York Jets had a decent team but that will not be the case in 2013.

If things were to really drag on through late September it would be a draw because CBS needs distribution for its fall primetime shows to succeed while Time Warner would certainly lose a lot of customers to upstart challenger Verizon Fios if viewers can’t see their old favorites or be denied the opportunity to discover the network’s new shows.

The last time Time Warner Cable customers lost a favorite channel was when the company and MSG Networks could not agree on a deal and the channels that broadcast Knicks, Rangers, Islanders, and Devils games were pulled for 48 days. Both MSG and TWC ran acrimonious ads accusing one another of outrageous greed and negotiating in bad faith. Today Time Warner Cable is a major sponsor at Madison Square Garden. Go figure.

I wonder if former Pittsburgh Steelers head coach Bill Cowher has offered to arbitrate this dispute since he is both an NFL analyst for CBS Sports and a spokesman for Time Warner Cable as is evident from those annoying ubiquitous commercials.

Posted under Aaa Affiliate, Amazin, Collective Groan, David Wright, Derek Jeter, Early September, First Baseman, Hamstrings, Inning Game, Lloyd Carroll, Mike Baxter, Miraculous Recovery, New York Mets, Ninth Inning, Patience Level, Pinch Hits, Sandy Alderson, Showmanship, Top Story, Writhe In Pain

Sports Beat “Matt’s Big Moment”

At a press conference held at Citi Field the day before the All-Star Game that was hosted by MLB Network personality, Levittown native, and longtime Good Times reader Brian Kenny, San Francisco Giants manager Bruce Bochy admitted that Mets manager Terry Collins promised him that Matt Harvey would miss his scheduled start against the Pittsburgh Pirates so that he would be fresh as a daisy to start the All-Star Game at Citi Field. Collins admitted as much about an hour later at a separate media availability session by saying that hosting the 84th All-Star Game was huge for Mets organization. He also more or less confessed that he overplayed the concerns about Harvey’s blister on his pitching hand.

You couldn’t blame the Mets for wanting to show off their matinee idol stud ace who has quickly become the man about town as he has been profiled by USA Today, Sports Illustrated, Men’s Journal, as well as hosting a humorous man-in-the street segment for “Late Night with Jimmy Fallon.”

After a rocky start in the All-Star Game that began with him giving up a lead-off double to Angels phenomenon Mike Trout and plunking Yankees second baseman Robinson Cano with a 97 mph fastball, Harvey settled down to strike out three of the next six batters he faced including the greatest hitter in the game today, Miguel Cabrera.

I asked Harvey, who is the personification of equanimity, if he had any jitters at the start of the game that would account for his rough start. “I had some in the bullpen warming up but I felt like I was home once the game started,” he replied.

The All-Star Game itself was a bore as the American League prevailed over the National, 3-0. Sportswriters made more noise than the National League offense did as many were griping about how Aramark, the Mets’ food vendor, demanded that they keep their plates and cups no matter how dirty they were for the mediocre buffet they were serving or else they would have to pay full price for new ones. The fact that this appeared to be an unsanitary practice meant little to the Aramark manager with whom I spoke. Fans who have been overpaying for years for crummy food at sports venue concessions can take solace that the sports media felt your pain.

On a more pleasant food note, Subway Restaurants used the All-Star Game to promote their various low-fat sandwiches by bringing in their most recognizable spokesman, Jared Fogle, as well as former Mets manager and Yankees great Willie Randolph for appearances at the All-Star Fan Fest at the Javits Center, a Manhattan Subway franchise where free tote bags and sandwiches were dispensed, and a ride on the #7 train to City Field for the All-Star Game.

Jared, who was mobbed by New Yorkers as if he were a rock star, claimed that his days of running the NYC Marathon as a Subway celebrity are behind him.

Willie Randolph lit up when I mentioned to  him that Subway did not use Terry Collins or his Yankees managerial counterpart, Joe Girardi, for commercial spots the way that he and Joe Torre were used for its local ad campaigns back when George W. Bush was in the White House. “I am glad that you noticed that. I guess that Subway realizes that mediocrity doesn’t help sell their product!” he said with a smile. He added that he is hopeful that he’ll receive either a managerial or front office offer from a major league team during the off-season.

Pittsburgh Pirates third baseman Pedro Alvarez, who grew up in Washington Heights, received the loudest ovation for a non-Mets or Yankees player at the All-Star Game. Alvarez admitted that he did not know why Hispanic players such as potential repeat Triple Crown winner Miguel Cabrera do not receive even a fraction of the commercial endorsement offers that Derek Jeter or LeBron James get. Alvarez, a personable alumnus of Vanderbilt University, as well as being one of baseball’s brightest young stars, would seem to be an ideal pitchman.

You have to wonder whether Nets general manager Billy King has made a Faustian bargain by trading away Gerald Wallace, Kris Humphries, MarShon Brooks, and three number one draft picks for the aging triumvirate of Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce, and Jason Terry. King is betting a boatload of chips on the Nets winning a title within the next two years.

Nobody would have bet the Knicks would get this guy when the off-season started. And they better hope that the man that they passed over in the draft 14 years ago, Queensbridge native Ron Artest, who these days goes by the moniker Metta World Peace, has something left in the tank now that they have signed him after the Lakers bid him adieu. Metta joins the Knicks just as they are learning that JR Smith may miss the early part of the 2013-14 season recovering from knee surgery.

On the topic of surgery, Dr. Mark McLaughlin a neurosurgeon in New Jersey’s CentraState Health Care System, is teaching surgical techniques to Army’s football coaching staff . Army’s football brain trust believes that being able to handle a scalpel on cadavers will lead to decision-making clarity during the tense moments of a football game. There have been hundreds of books written on how success on the football field can be correlated with running a profitable business but I have never heard of surgery as a metaphor for football.

The first sign that the NFL season is upon was when Sirius XM sponsored their annual Celebrity Fantasy Football Draft at the Hard Rock Café on July 17. While it’s nominally about getting the best fantasy team possible in actuality it’s a Friars Club-like roast with Adam Schein acting in the Jeffrey Ross emcee role. Among the celebrities taking part this year were actors Jim Belushi and Robert Wuhl, WWE star Mike “The Miz” Mizanin, NASCAR driver Austin Dillon, Jacksonville Jaguars running back Maurice Drew-Jones, and onetime Playboy Playmate Pilar Lastra.

If you have ever wanted to climb the steps of every part of Yankee Stadium and sprint all over its field while helping a good cause, the annual Runyon 5K run will take place on August 18. The funds raised from the event will go towards cancer research. For more info log onto www.damonrunyon.org/yankeestadium.

Posted under Food Vendor, Fresh As A Daisy, Humorous Man, Lloyd Carroll, Matinee Idol, Miguel Cabrera, Network Personality, New York Mets, Pittsburgh Pirates, Second Baseman, Top Story, Usa Today Sports

Sports Beat “Matt’s Big Moment”

At a press conference held at Citi Field the day before the All-Star Game that was hosted by MLB Network personality, Levittown native, and longtime Good Times reader Brian Kenny, San Francisco Giants manager Bruce Bochy admitted that Mets manager Terry Collins promised him that Matt Harvey would miss his scheduled start against the Pittsburgh Pirates so that he would be fresh as a daisy to start the All-Star Game at Citi Field. Collins admitted as much about an hour later at a separate media availability session by saying that hosting the 84th All-Star Game was huge for Mets organization. He also more or less confessed that he overplayed the concerns about Harvey’s blister on his pitching hand.

You couldn’t blame the Mets for wanting to show off their matinee idol stud ace who has quickly become the man about town as he has been profiled by USA Today, Sports Illustrated, Men’s Journal, as well as hosting a humorous man-in-the street segment for “Late Night with Jimmy Fallon.”

After a rocky start in the All-Star Game that began with him giving up a lead-off double to Angels phenomenon Mike Trout and plunking Yankees second baseman Robinson Cano with a 97 mph fastball, Harvey settled down to strike out three of the next six batters he faced including the greatest hitter in the game today, Miguel Cabrera.

I asked Harvey, who is the personification of equanimity, if he had any jitters at the start of the game that would account for his rough start. “I had some in the bullpen warming up but I felt like I was home once the game started,” he replied.

The All-Star Game itself was a bore as the American League prevailed over the National, 3-0. Sportswriters made more noise than the National League offense did as many were griping about how Aramark, the Mets’ food vendor, demanded that they keep their plates and cups no matter how dirty they were for the mediocre buffet they were serving or else they would have to pay full price for new ones. The fact that this appeared to be an unsanitary practice meant little to the Aramark manager with whom I spoke. Fans who have been overpaying for years for crummy food at sports venue concessions can take solace that the sports media felt your pain.

On a more pleasant food note, Subway Restaurants used the All-Star Game to promote their various low-fat sandwiches by bringing in their most recognizable spokesman, Jared Fogle, as well as former Mets manager and Yankees great Willie Randolph for appearances at the All-Star Fan Fest at the Javits Center, a Manhattan Subway franchise where free tote bags and sandwiches were dispensed, and a ride on the #7 train to City Field for the All-Star Game.

Jared, who was mobbed by New Yorkers as if he were a rock star, claimed that his days of running the NYC Marathon as a Subway celebrity are behind him.

Willie Randolph lit up when I mentioned to  him that Subway did not use Terry Collins or his Yankees managerial counterpart, Joe Girardi, for commercial spots the way that he and Joe Torre were used for its local ad campaigns back when George W. Bush was in the White House. “I am glad that you noticed that. I guess that Subway realizes that mediocrity doesn’t help sell their product!” he said with a smile. He added that he is hopeful that he’ll receive either a managerial or front office offer from a major league team during the off-season.

Pittsburgh Pirates third baseman Pedro Alvarez, who grew up in Washington Heights, received the loudest ovation for a non-Mets or Yankees player at the All-Star Game. Alvarez admitted that he did not know why Hispanic players such as potential repeat Triple Crown winner Miguel Cabrera do not receive even a fraction of the commercial endorsement offers that Derek Jeter or LeBron James get. Alvarez, a personable alumnus of Vanderbilt University, as well as being one of baseball’s brightest young stars, would seem to be an ideal pitchman.

You have to wonder whether Nets general manager Billy King has made a Faustian bargain by trading away Gerald Wallace, Kris Humphries, MarShon Brooks, and three number one draft picks for the aging triumvirate of Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce, and Jason Terry. King is betting a boatload of chips on the Nets winning a title within the next two years.

Nobody would have bet the Knicks would get this guy when the off-season started. And they better hope that the man that they passed over in the draft 14 years ago, Queensbridge native Ron Artest, who these days goes by the moniker Metta World Peace, has something left in the tank now that they have signed him after the Lakers bid him adieu. Metta joins the Knicks just as they are learning that JR Smith may miss the early part of the 2013-14 season recovering from knee surgery.

On the topic of surgery, Dr. Mark McLaughlin a neurosurgeon in New Jersey’s CentraState Health Care System, is teaching surgical techniques to Army’s football coaching staff . Army’s football brain trust believes that being able to handle a scalpel on cadavers will lead to decision-making clarity during the tense moments of a football game. There have been hundreds of books written on how success on the football field can be correlated with running a profitable business but I have never heard of surgery as a metaphor for football.

The first sign that the NFL season is upon was when Sirius XM sponsored their annual Celebrity Fantasy Football Draft at the Hard Rock Café on July 17. While it’s nominally about getting the best fantasy team possible in actuality it’s a Friars Club-like roast with Adam Schein acting in the Jeffrey Ross emcee role. Among the celebrities taking part this year were actors Jim Belushi and Robert Wuhl, WWE star Mike “The Miz” Mizanin, NASCAR driver Austin Dillon, Jacksonville Jaguars running back Maurice Drew-Jones, and onetime Playboy Playmate Pilar Lastra.

If you have ever wanted to climb the steps of every part of Yankee Stadium and sprint all over its field while helping a good cause, the annual Runyon 5K run will take place on August 18. The funds raised from the event will go towards cancer research. For more info log onto www.damonrunyon.org/yankeestadium.

Posted under Food Vendor, Fresh As A Daisy, Humorous Man, Lloyd Carroll, Matinee Idol, Miguel Cabrera, Network Personality, New York Mets, Pittsburgh Pirates, Second Baseman, Street Segment, Top Story, Usa Today Sports