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

Amazins Have Chance To Bury Bombers

Another day, another shutout by the Mets, who now have crawled back to one game under .500 before the Subway Series this weekend.

And what a great time to find their game as the club may be catching the Yankees at just the right time this year.

For those who have been under a rock or at least try to ignore what is happening north of the Robert F. Kennedy Bridge, the Yankees are a team in turmoil. Sure they won last night, but that came on the heels of a seven out of eight skid, which saw the Bombers throw their icons under the bus.

First Jorge Posada asked out of the lineup last Saturday after getting dropped to ninth in the batting order. After sitting out for a couple of days, he played on Tuesday in Tampa, but still is in Joe Girardi’s doghouse. His average is still on the Interstate at .179.

Then Derek Jeter irked Yankee officials by daring to defend his friend, instead of toting the company line and his got into the Yankee brass’s crosshairs.

Well, at least Mariano Rivera kept quiet over the past week, and there is no truth to the rumor Reggie Jackson was flown in for a tongue lashing, just for good measure.

And all of this turmoil, losing, and Bronx Zooery up there at the House that Jeter Built may be a good thing for the Mets, as the Amazins are playing their best ball of the year without the services of Ike Davis and David Wright, and relying on – of all things – strong starting pitching and solid relief.

Add to that a few rookies that just don’t know any better and things seems nice in Queens.

“We got to get to .500 and that’s all we are thinking about right now,” said pitcher Jason Irsinghausen, who was on the Mets back in 1998 and 1999 when the Subway Series was in its infancy. “It’s a May series. It’s just another baseball game for all of us. It’s nice to go to Yankee Stadium, though.”

A sweep by the Mets would be even nicer as the Yankees could be pushed over the edge. With R.A. Dickey, Chris Capuano, and Mike Pelfrey going for the Mets against Freddy Garcia, A.J. Burnett, and Ian Nova, the pitching matchup is there.

Add to that Jose Reyes being Jose Reyes, Carlos Beltran playing for a contract and Frankie Rodriguez pitching like there’s $17 million dollars on the line, you have to at least give the Mets a better than average chance.

Imagine what would happen if the pass the hat Mets sweep the mighty Yankees. Posada would probably be released. Players would be demoted. Derek Jeter would be dropped down in the lineup and maybe a coach or two would get whacked.

Although George Steinbrenner is no longer with us, over the last week, we have seen the Bronx Zoo alive and well on 161st Street.

And the Mets will get a chance to make a statement. For a team so desperate to sell tickets and so e desperate to remain relevant, this is their weekend to get back in the good graces of their disillusioned fan base and maybe change the tide of New York Baseball for both teams.

Two shutouts against the Nationals were a nice start, but now this is their chance to shine.

Posted under Baseball Game, Bombers, David Wright, Derek Jeter, Doghouse, Good Measure, Infancy, Joe Girardi, Joe Mcdonald, Jorge Posada, Kennedy Bridge, Last Saturday, Mariano Rivera, New York Mets, Reggie Jackson, Robert F Kennedy, Rookies, Shutout, Subway Series, Top Story, Yankee Brass, Yankee Stadium

This post was written by Joe McDonald on May 19, 2011

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Ike Having Time of His Life

New York – Ike Davis ran out of the visiting clubhouse at Yankee Stadium on before the game on Saturday. He was quickly reminded he had a very important task to do.

“Got it done,” he proudly would say afterward.

Davis wasn’t doing anything Met related here, actually he was doing a more important assignment, leaving tickets for his dad Ron who was in for Father’s Day.

“He probably would have gone back to Arizona,” Ike would laugh.

Well, there was no Joe DiMaggio-like incident that day and like everything else Davis has been doing this year, he has doing it well. The freshman first baseman has been a godsend for his club, as he has fit very nicely into the middle of the Met lineup.

In the year of the rookie, where young players like Stephen Strasburg, Jason Heywood, Austin Jackson, and Brennan Boesch have taken all the headlines, Davis has quietly become one of the leading rookies in baseball.

“I don’t think I am under the radar,” Davis said. “I am just here trying to help my club win.”

After starting out sixth in the lineup, manager Jerry Manuel moved Davis to the cleanup position. Although he has tailed off from hot start, the 23 year-old is second in among rookies in home runs with eight while his .268 batting average is fourth in the freshman rankings.

And Davis is doing it in the field as well with tremendous defense at first base, including three over the railing catches into the dugout at Citi Field.

More importantly, Davis was there when the Mets needed him last night, going 3-6 with three RBI and one run scored in the Mets 14-6 win over Jackson, Boesch and the Detroit Tigers.

“We played hard today and found some holes,” Davis said. “We were patient at the plate and we were keying on pitches.”

Davis seems to be having a lot of fun with these Mets. His attitude is contagious, smiling out there, while the club looked for an identity, especially at home.

He has become a fan favorite with chants of “We like Ike” coming down from the Citi Field rafters even when he wasn’t at the plate.

“It’s great to play here,” he said. “It’s good to be able to sleep in our own beds and we are real comfortable playing on this field and seeing this hitting background.”

It’s a comfort his dad had with the Yankees back from 1978 to 1982. But now Ron is a full Met fan as his No. 1 player is staring with the club.

And yes, Dad was able to see the Mets lose to his Yankees this weekend, but more importantly, Davis was able to go fishing off City Island with his father on Monday’s off-day.

“I caught three stripers,” he said.

It’s a good thing he left the tickets.

Posted under Batting Average, Brennan Boesch, Chants, Cleanup Position, Clubhouse, Detroit Tigers, Dugout, First Baseman, Freshman, Godsend, Having Time, Holes, Home Runs, Joe Dimaggio, Joe Mcdonald, Mets, New York Mets, Pitches, Railing, Rbi, Rookies, Strasburg, Top Story, Yankee Stadium

This post was written by Joe McDonald on June 23, 2010

These Days There’s Joy in Metsville

Bronx, NY – Jeff Francoeur is enjoying this.

Not only are his Mets on fire, but they are embroiled in a race with his former club, the Atlanta Braves.

“I’ve spoke to [Braves catcher Brian] McCann and the guys,” Francoeur said. “But we are just concerned about winning here. As long as we win, the standings will take care of themselves.”

Winning they have been doing. Eight in a row and 12 out of 13, the Mets have made themselves a force in the National League East, doing it the old fashioned way, by pitching and timely hitting.

It’s true the club went through the dregs of the American League last week and may be catching the Yankees at the right time, as the Phillies put them into a slump earlier in the week, but to a man they will take it.

You play the schedule you are given and remember, no one complained when the Yankees were feasting on Indians and Orioles earlier in the year, nor does anyone in the NL East give the Mets a break when they are forced to play the Bombers six times a year.

All of this doesn’t seem to bother this club.

“It looks like we have a real good team here,” said this week’s designated hitter Chris Carter.

With nine rookies on this club ranging from 20 to 35 years old, they may be too young and inexperienced to realize where this team was picked to finish dead last in the east. Too old and too dysfunctional to be considered a contender, with last Thursday being Jerry Manuel’s witching hours, the two year anniversary of Willie Randolph’s ouster and his ascension to the Mets managerial office.

For a while there, it looked like the prophecy will come true. Just a month ago, Jeff Wilpon took an emergency flight to Atlanta in order to rally his minions, with a firing on the horizon. But Manuel turned it around, first by crushing the competition at home and now becoming the Mets road warriors.

It’s still just June 19th and there’s plenty of baseball left to play, but right now everything seems right in Metsville as the team trails the Atlanta Braves by a half a game, with their best pitcher in Mike Pelfrey on the mound later today at Yankee Stadium.

Now the Mets have a chance to keep it going or as Francoeur said, give him a chance to “kick the bleep out of the Braves the next month.

Posted under Atlanta Braves, Brian Mccann, Bronx Ny, Chris Carter, Contender, Designated Hitter, Dregs, Emergency Flight, Jeff Francoeur, Jeff Wilpon, Joe Mcdonald, Last Thursday, Minions, National League East, New York Mets, Nl East, Ouster, Road Warriors, Rookies, Six Times, Top Story, Willie Randolph, Witching Hours

This post was written by Joe McDonald on June 19, 2010