Trade Puts Mets In Evaluation Mode

Maybe the general manager Sandy Alderson should call NY Giants GM Jerry Reese to see if Steve Weatherford is available.

The Mets are punting on this season.

After losing Matt Harvey to a torn UCL, the Mets sent outfielder Marlon Byrd and catcher John Buck to the Pittsburgh Pirates for minor leaguer infielder Dilson Herrera and a player to be named later.

Clearly the Mets are looking towards next year and moving both Byrd and Buck shows that the organization is in take a look mode. With outfielder Matt den Dekker called up today and Travis d’Arnaud anointed as starting catcher, the club will be seeing what they have in the minors going into the off-season.

And frankly, this had to be done. Buck wasn’t starting anymore and the Mets would be crazy to pay up for Byrd in the off-season. It makes too much sense to get something for the two players.

At the same time, the Mets still want to win some games.

“I don’t think that this deal changes anything,” Alderson said.  “This is a baseball deal. This is a typical deal late in the season — players going to a playoff contender and in this instance the Mets acquiring some future talent. When you juxtapose this deal with the Harvey injury, it’s easy to conclude, well, things have gone south. And, in fact, although this deal and the Harvey injury were coincidental, one of the concerns we had was the sense that, OK, the two of them together might send the wrong message. So to the extent there was any influence from the Harvey injury, it would have been not to do the deal. But we felt this was in our best interest.

“We want to finish as well as we can. But the sense we create on the part of the fans and their confidence in the future also is a function of more than wins and losses. It’s about the talent. It’s about the direction of the team. I think this move will be weighed in that broader sense rather than just how well we do in the month of September.”

Now you have to wonder how these moves will affect Collins future. He is up for renewal after this season and even though the Mets seem to want him back, the manager still has to finish strong.

“First of all, we all want to win as many games as possible,” Alderson said. “My role is to balance the short term with the long term. I have said before and would reiterate that how Terry is evaluated is beyond simply wins and losses. We’ve talked about that before. To the extent that it’s perceived that this will make it more difficult to win, and I don’t necessarily hold to that belief, obviously all the circumstances will be taken into account.”

To Collins, none of that matters.

“I will reiterate the same things I’ve been saying all the summer: This is not about me. This is not about me. This will never be about me,” Collins said. “This is only about our team and that clubhouse and those 25 guys that have got to go out and play every night. And so my job right now is to make sure they understand what is expected of each and every one of those guys. And that they go out and attain that and reach those expectations. That’s all this is about.”

Even with these moves the Mets still have some work to do. Now they are in evaluation mode looking towards 2014.

 

Posted under Baseball, Best Interest, Gm, Jerry Reese, Joe Mcdonald, New York Mets, Ny Giants, Outfielder, Pittsburgh Pirates, Sandy Alderson, Top Story, Weatherford

Trade Puts Mets In Evaluation Mode

Maybe the general manager Sandy Alderson should call NY Giants GM Jerry Reese to see if Steve Weatherford is available.

The Mets are punting on this season.

After losing Matt Harvey to a torn UCL, the Mets sent outfielder Marlon Byrd and catcher John Buck to the Pittsburgh Pirates for minor leaguer infielder Dilson Herrera and a player to be named later.

Clearly the Mets are looking towards next year and moving both Byrd and Buck shows that the organization is in take a look mode. With outfielder Matt den Dekker called up today and Travis d’Arnaud anointed as starting catcher, the club will be seeing what they have in the minors going into the off-season.

And frankly, this had to be done. Buck wasn’t starting anymore and the Mets would be crazy to pay up for Byrd in the off-season. It makes too much sense to get something for the two players.

At the same time, the Mets still want to win some games.

“I don’t think that this deal changes anything,” Alderson said.  “This is a baseball deal. This is a typical deal late in the season — players going to a playoff contender and in this instance the Mets acquiring some future talent. When you juxtapose this deal with the Harvey injury, it’s easy to conclude, well, things have gone south. And, in fact, although this deal and the Harvey injury were coincidental, one of the concerns we had was the sense that, OK, the two of them together might send the wrong message. So to the extent there was any influence from the Harvey injury, it would have been not to do the deal. But we felt this was in our best interest.

“We want to finish as well as we can. But the sense we create on the part of the fans and their confidence in the future also is a function of more than wins and losses. It’s about the talent. It’s about the direction of the team. I think this move will be weighed in that broader sense rather than just how well we do in the month of September.”

Now you have to wonder how these moves will affect Collins future. He is up for renewal after this season and even though the Mets seem to want him back, the manager still has to finish strong.

“First of all, we all want to win as many games as possible,” Alderson said. “My role is to balance the short term with the long term. I have said before and would reiterate that how Terry is evaluated is beyond simply wins and losses. We’ve talked about that before. To the extent that it’s perceived that this will make it more difficult to win, and I don’t necessarily hold to that belief, obviously all the circumstances will be taken into account.”

To Collins, none of that matters.

“I will reiterate the same things I’ve been saying all the summer: This is not about me. This is not about me. This will never be about me,” Collins said. “This is only about our team and that clubhouse and those 25 guys that have got to go out and play every night. And so my job right now is to make sure they understand what is expected of each and every one of those guys. And that they go out and attain that and reach those expectations. That’s all this is about.”

Even with these moves the Mets still have some work to do. Now they are in evaluation mode looking towards 2014.

 

Posted under Baseball, Best Interest, Extent, Gm, Jerry Reese, Joe Mcdonald, New York Mets, Ny Giants, Outfielder, Pittsburgh Pirates, Playoff Contender, Sandy Alderson, Top Story, Weatherford

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

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

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, Lloyd Carroll, Matinee Idol, Miguel Cabrera, New York Mets, Pittsburgh Pirates, Second Baseman, Street Segment, 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, Miguel Cabrera, New York Mets, Pittsburgh Pirates, Second Baseman, Street Segment, 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, Lloyd Carroll, Miguel Cabrera, Network Personality, New York Mets, Pittsburgh Pirates, Second Baseman, Street Segment, Top Story

Sports Beat “Sayonara, Cy Young winner”

Mets shortstop Jose Reyes was the National League batting champion in 2011. The pending free agent did not receive a contract offer from the Mets and signed a six-year, $106 million deal with the Miami Marlins, who would go onto trade him to the Toronto Blue Jays a year later.

In 2012 Mets knuckleball pitcher RA Dickey won the Cy Young Award for being the best pitcher in the National League. Since Dickey would be a free agent after the 2013 season the Mets decided to trade him while they could get something in return for him rather than wait a year and get nothing back as was the case with Reyes. The Blue Jays apparently offered the Mets the best package of prospects. One can just imagine the conversation Reyes and Dickey will have in Dunedin, Florida when the Blue Jays open their spring training camp.

There is little doubt that the dispensing of Dickey to north of the border was done to save current and future payroll. Dickey is 38 years old, which is ancient for any traditional pitcher but not one who throws a knuckleball. On the other hand, the Mets couldn’t achieve a .500 record even with RA’s pitching heroics.

If catcher Travis d’Arnaud and pitcher Noah Syndergaard, the prospects the Mets received in the deal, come close to living up to the hype surrounding them, then this will be a steal for Mets general manager Sandy Alderson. Of course Baseball America and other publications have long praised the well-stocked minor league systems of the Pittsburgh Pirates and Kansas City Royals and yet those teams have stunk for the last twenty years.

Mets reporters will miss talking with catcher Josh Thole who will be accompanying Dickey to Toronto.  He is a great guy and his absence will be felt. To use a New York expression, he’s a total mensch.

St. John’s University, along with seven other Catholic colleges whose schools don’t have football programs, announced that they would be leaving the Big East to start their own conference. There was no reason given as to why there is acrimony between Big East colleges that field football teams and those that don’t.

In a press release issued by St. John’s, university president Rev. Donald Harrington and athletics director Chris Monasch both stated that the decision was not based on dissatisfaction with the economics of the Big East. They added however that they expect the new federation that will be created to do very well financially. I translate that as “we say that it’s not the money but in reality it’s the money!”

Former Newtown High School hoops star and current Detroit Pistons player Charlie Villanueva was back in the area last Friday night as his team took on the Nets at the Barclays Center. He expressed his concern about his alma mater being targeted for closing by Mayor Bloomberg because of poor graduation rates. Charlie also helped the Nets accounting department by purchasing 14 tickets so that friends and family could watch him play.

Jamaica High School alum Rob Parker is both a well-respected sportswriter and an ESPN air personality whose star was on the rise until last week when he put his foot in his mouth for criticizing Washington Redskins QB Robert Griffin III for not being attuned enough to African-American concerns or culture in rather demeaning language to boot. He was immediately suspended by ESPN brass. I have known Rob for years and I am sure that he regrets what he said on the air. We’ve all said dumb things that we wish that we could retract immediately. I hope that this incident blows over as quickly as possible for him.

Parker was substituting for another Queens native, Hollis’s Stephen A. Smith, on the contrived ESPN2 morning show, “First Take,” where the name of the game is to say as many outrageous things as possible without going over the mythical line in order to create buzz judging by the amount of attention that co-host Skip Bayless has received.

I asked Bayless at ESPN’s Upfront last May if the show is akin to college debating with a bit more of an edge. He denied that and told me that everything that he says on the show is what he truly believes. My guess is that Skip’s response to my query was that of a professional wrestler who never steps out of character for the public.

ESPN chairman George Bodenheimer, former NFL commissioner Paul Tagliabue, Fox Sports executive producer Ed Goren, legendary sports essayist Jack Whitaker, and former Giants running back and longtime “Monday Night Football” anchor Frank Gifford were among the inductees at the 2012 Sports Broadcasting Hall of Fame that was held last week at the New York Hilton. On the technical side, Ray Dolby, whose name is synonymous with the movie industry was also given this honor because of contributions that he and his company have made to improving the television audio experience for sports fans.

It was a nice touch by the New York Islanders to send some of the players from their Bridgeport Sound Tigers American Hockey League farm team to meet young patients at both St. Mary’s Hospital in Bayside and at the Cohen’s Children’s Medical Center at Long Island Jewish Hospital this past Monday afternoon.

The Christmas-New Year’s week is always a popular tourist time in Orlando. If you want to get away from the theme parks and enjoy a fun evening at minimal cost, the East Coast Hockey League’s Orlando Solar Bears have home games on both December 27 and 28. The Solar Bears are an affiliate of the NHL’s Minnesota Wild and play at the Amway Center, the same arena used by the NBA’s Orlando Magic. Minor league hockey is not affected by the National Hockey League work stoppage.

Perhaps it was because it dovetailed nicely with the celebration of Chanukah but I thought that it was a bit unusual, albeit informative, for the New York Times to dedicate a full page of their sports section last week on newly acquired Yankees free agent Kevin Youkilis’s Jewish heritage.

Knicks forward Amar’e Stoudemire discovered a short time ago that he has Hebrew roots and has been public about his interest in all things Judaic including making a trip to Israel over the summer. I saw Stoudemire as he was watching the Knicks’ pre-game practice against the Rockets and I wished him mazel tov on his recent marriage which occurred over Chanukah. He thanked me and shook my hand.

I then mentioned to him that he can now file a joint tax return that would probably save him hundreds of thousands of dollars in tax liability. “Really?” he asked with a broad grin. “You mean that you didn’t check with your CPA before getting married? I replied.

Jeremy Lin’s return packed the Garden’s press box and to no surprise he was quite positive about his time with the Knicks. I told him that I liked the fact that he made the cover of the current issue of GQ but that I wasn’t crazy about the suit and sneakers outfit that he was wearing when I passed him in a Garden corridor. “That was just a guy that looked like me!” Lin said with a chuckle indicating that it wasn’t his choice of an apparel combo either.

Speaking before of Hebrew culture, theFilm Society of Lincoln Center, the folks behind the New York Film Festival which just marked its 50th anniversary, will be presenting the 22nd annual New York Jewish Film Festival from January 9-24.

An indication that you are staying in an upscale hotel is if it has spa amenities in your room such as lotions, shampoos, shower gels, and balms from the British company, Gilchrist & Soames.

For security and protection, Sentinel Management is one of the best places to go. Visit them at www.sentinelmgi.com.

The Entertainment Book has long been known for saving big dollars at restaurants but you can also get great deals on tickets to sporting events through tear-out coupons and by going to their website, www.entertainment.com.

Posted under Baseball America, Batting Champion, Catholic Colleges, Cy Young, Cy Young Award, Cy Young Winner, Dunedin Florida, Football Programs, Jose Reyes, Josh Thole, Knuckleball Pitcher, Lloyd Carroll, New York Mets, Pittsburgh Pirates, Ra Dickey, S University, Sandy Alderson, Top Story

Sports Beat “The Wright Decision”

David Wright’s productive 2012 season was a rare bright spot for Mets fans. With one year remaining his current pact with the Mets, David picked a good time to finally feel at home at Citi Field, a place where he had struggled for the first three years of its existence.

Mets owner Fred Wilpon was quoted in New York Magazine as saying that David Wright, while a good player, was not a superstar. Wilpon may have been right in his assessment but the reality is that his woebegone organization had no choice but to re-sign him to the most lucrative contract in Mets history. Had the Mets traded David Wright, Citi Field would have resembled the ghost town that Shea Stadium was in the late 1970s following Tom Seaver’s departure.

For better or worse, David Wright is more than just a fan favorite; he is the face of the organization. No one sells more Mets jerseys and t-shirts than him. It is obligatory for Wright to hold a lengthy press conference on the state of the Mets after every single game. No matter how awful things are going for our Flushing heroes, David always says something reassuring to the faithful about how things will get better.

I am not sure if it was a coincidence but the Mets inked a deal with Wright just a few hours after the lowly, small market Pittsburgh Pirates spent $17 million to pry catcher Russell Martin away from the Yankees. It would have been both humiliating and insulting for the parsimonious Pirates to spend big bucks on new talent while the Mets count their pennies watching their name players go elsewhere.

The death of Marvin Miller, the former executive director of the Major League Baseball Players Association, last week at age 95 did not receive the attention that it should have. Marvin is the man who was singlehandedly responsible for the economic freedoms and high compensation that big leaguers enjoy today and which were but a pipedream for them 40 years ago.

Ironically, the high salaries and free agency led to more public interest in the sport and thus higher ticket prices, licensing fees, and billion-dollar television contracts for the owners. Of course, the owners and old guard members of the Baseball Writers Association of America refused to accept that notion and that’s why Marvin Miller was never inducted into the Hall of Fame in Cooperstown.

Washington Wizards general manager, and former Forest Hills High basketball star, Ernie Grunfeld normally never misses an opportunity to return home. His awful team had a 1-12 record when they came into town last Friday night to play the Knicks and that had to have influenced his decision to skip the game. “He made the right call!” laughed Knicks rookie forward Chris Copeland who played well in his team’s easy win.

“Seven is better than six!” beamed Jets wide receiver Stephen Hill following his team’s 7-6 win over the Arizona Cardinals last Sunday at MetLife Stadium. Hill was basically admitting that the game was an absolute stinker with the only saving grace being that Gang Green came out on top.

QB Mark Sanchez was pulled from a game for poor play for the first time in his four-year career as a Jet by head coach Rex Ryan. Following the game, Ryan admirably refused to throw Sanchez under the proverbial bus by simply stating that he thought that his understudy, Greg McElroy, could provide a spark in the second half. McElroy did look sharp leading the Jets to the go-ahead touchdown and driving them down the field again when the clock ran out in the fourth quarter.

Ryan claimed that he wasn’t concerned that Mark Sanchez was still an awful passer in spite of a good job by both his offensive line and running backs, and preferred to give credit to the opposition. “The Cardinals make a lot of quarterbacks look bad,” he said. I think that Rex was being a bit too charitable towards him.

The Travel Channel debuted a new series Tuesday, “NFL Road Tested: The Cleveland Browns.” The show is similar to the cinema verite premium cable documentary series as HBO’s “Hard Knocks” and Showtime’s “The Franchise.” What makes this show different is that it peels back the curtain for sports fans to see the countless things that are required to get the Cleveland Browns from city to city. Team travel secretaries are among the many unsung heroes in the world of professional sports and it’s fascinating to watch all that they have to do to make sure that things go off without a hitch.

Washington Redskins QB Robert Griffin is enjoying a terrific rookie season and is one of the most exciting NFL players to watch. Bayside High School alumnus Dorson Boyce is hoping to be taking hand-offs from him next year. Boyce was signed by the Redskins this past summer but has spent the year on the injured reserve list.

Three cheers for both Showtime and Oscar De La Hoya’s Golden Boy Promotions for helping to revive boxing in New York. Madison Square Garden was for years the Mecca of boxing but over the last thirty years, Las Vegas, and to a lesser extent, Atlantic City have played host to the big fights. Last Saturday’s twelve-round WBA super welterweight championship bout between fan favorite Miguel Cotto and Austin “No Doubt” Trout was the biggest pugilistic battle Madison Square Garden has hosted in years. The fight was a good one as the slugfest went the distance with Trout winning a unanimous decision over Cotto.

It seems as if every boxing card that involves fighters that have even the vaguest name recognition wind up on pay-per-view cable. That means just a cadre of hardcore boxing fans watch and the sport fails to grow. Showtime had the Cotto-Trout bout as part of its regular Saturday night programming last week, and it plans to do the same with its next marquee fight from New York, a twelve-round super lightweight championship fight between up-and-coming Danny Garcia and veteran Zab Judah that will take place at the Barclays Center on February 9.

New York Rangers center Brad Richards has managed to keep very busy in spite of the lockout that has been imposed on players by the team owners of the National Hockey League owners. He organized Operation Hat Trick, the charity game that took place in Atlantic City over Thanksgiving weekend, and is trying to do the same here in the New York area to benefit victims of Hurricane Sandy.

Richards, like his teammate Henryk Lundqvist, enjoys men’s fashion and has just inked a deal to be a model and spokesman for UNTUCKit, a dress shirt company that encourages guys to wear their button-downs over their belts instead of tucking them inside, hence the brand name.

Liquor companies routinely hire athletes to serve as endorsers. Ty Ku, Japan’s best known sake manufacturer, has gone a slightly different route by hiring Bravo’s no-nonsense “Millionaire Matchmaker,” Patti Stanger. Then again, dating can frequently be a contact sport!

At a press event to promote both Ty Ku and her new book, “Become Your Own Matchmaker” (Atria), Stanger spoke about how she spent her formative years in Beechurst and her fond memories of PS 193.

Sake, incidentally, is a rice-based, wine-like spirit, that contrary to popular belief, should be served cold rather than heated according to Ty Ku officials.

The holiday season is a favorite time for a lot of us to get away. If you want warmth but don’t want to pay exorbitant Florida and the Caribbean hotel rates, two cities served by JetBlue, Long Beach, California and Las Vegas, Nevada offer very pleasant albeit not tropical weather, and it’s considered off-season for both places so they won’t break your budget.

Long Beach is connected to Los Angeles via mass transit through the Blue Line as well by freeway and it’s only a 15-minute drive to Disneyland. Most of Long Beach’s hotels cater to business travelers and since the holiday season is notoriously a slow time in that area, leisure travelers can snap up bargain deals from the big name chain hotels such as the Hyatt and the Renaissance.

Las Vegas, which is generally unbearable from June through September, is an easy place to enjoy during the holiday season. The Venetian and the Palazzo Hotels are promoting  “Winter in Venice” that will run through January 6.  The hotels will have light shows, waterfalls, outdoor skating rinks, and top-tier dining at their over 30 restaurants. Package deals begin at $149 per night. A Las Vegas competitor, the Cosmopolitan, which is famous for its intriguing commercials that run during NBC’s “Saturday Night Live,” is offering a $150 credit on hotel amenities if you book a three-night stay.

JetBlue has just begun service from JFK to Albuquerque, New Mexico, a town that has been shamefully under-served by the airline industry. Albuquerque is a charming southwest town and it’s only an hour drive to Santa Fe, a city renown for its arts. Albuquerque is also a short drive to New Mexico’s Rocky Mountain ski resorts. If you want to enjoy a balmy winter sun, drive two hours south to the college town of Las Cruces. You can also play golf anytime of the year without having to make reservations days in advance in Las Cruces.

Posted under Baseball Players Association, David Wright, Economic Freedoms, Fred Wilpon, Ghost Town, Lloyd Carroll, Lucrative Contract, Major League Baseball, Major League Baseball Players Association, Marvin Miller, Mets Fans, New York Mets, Pipedream, Pittsburgh Pirates, Shea Stadium, Tom Seaver, Top Story