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

Matt Harvey won’t have Tommy John surgery on his injured elbow (Updated) (Big League Stew)

UPDATE : The Mets confirmed that Harvey will try to rehab his injury for now, but GM Sandy Alderson said Tommy John could still be a possibility in a few months.
Sandy Alderson says “there will be no surgery immediately.” Throwing program of 6 to 8 weeks and see how elbow responds. #mets
— Adam Rubin (@AdamRubinESPN) September 17, 2013
Sandy Alderson says 2015 should not be impacted, even if it ultimately is determined two months down the road Tommy John surgery is required — Adam Rubin (@AdamRubinESPN) September 17, 2013
Check out Adam Rubin of ESPN New York’s Twitter feed for more tidbits from Tuesday’s press conference.
ORIGINAL POST : The New York Mets are expected to announce Tuesday what injured ace Matt Harvey will do about the partially torn UCL in his right elbow. But CBS Sports’ Jon Heyman has apparently beaten them to it . He is reporting that Harvey won’t have surgery, but instead will attempt to rehab the injury.

Posted under Mlb

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

Baseball-Major League Baseball roundup (Reuters)

Sept 10 (The Sports Xchange) – Major League Baseball unveiled the 2014 regular-season schedule, which will begin with the Arizona Diamondbacks and Los Angeles Dodgers playing a two-game series in Sydney, Australia, on March 22-23. The remainder of the schedule will begin a week later, with ESPN kicking off its 25th season of “Sunday Night Baseball” on March 30 with teams yet to be announced. …

Posted under Mlb

Baseball-Major League Baseball roundup (Reuters)

Sept 9 (The Sports Xchange) – New York Yankees shortstop Derek Jeter reinjured his surgically repaired left ankle and was not in the lineup against the Boston Red Sox on Sunday. On Monday, ESPN reported the Yankees do not know if their captain will be able to return this season. With the regular season ending in three weeks, manager Joe Girardi would not guarantee that the 39-year-old Jeter would return. Jeter has played in only 17 games this season and is batting .190. …

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MLB rounduip: Girardi won’t say if Jeter will return (The SportsXchange)

New York Yankees shortstop Derek Jeter reinjured his surgically repaired left ankle and was not in the lineup against the Boston Red Sox on Sunday. On Monday, ESPN reported the Yankees do not know if their captain will be able to return this season.

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MLB roundup: A-Rod’s lawyers contact union regarding grievance (The SportsXchange)

Alex Rodriguez’s lawyers contacted the Major League Baseball Players Association to begin a grievance regarding their claims that the New York Yankees mishandled Rodriguez’s medical treatment this season and last season, ESPN reported Sunday.

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Mets place Jenrry Mejia on the disabled list (NBC Sports)

From ESPN New York’s Adam Rubin comes word that the Mets have placed right-hander Jenrry Mejia on the 15-day disabled list with a right elbow injury. Mejia was removed from his start Saturday against the Padres in the bottom of the fourth inning after complaining of pain in his throwing arm. He’s been pitching with…

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Shane Spencer impostor makes Yankees steroid allegations in radio interview (Big League Stew)

The real Shane Spencer did beaucoup damage for the New York Yankees as a rookie in 1998, particularly by hitting three grand slams over 10 days in September .
A reportedly fake Shane Spencer did beaucoup damage to the real Spencer’s reputation, along with that of some former Yankees teammates, by going on ESPN Radio in Albany, N.Y. on Monday and telling steroid-laced lies about himself and Roger Clemens, along with other falsehoods about Derek Jeter and Mariano Rivera.
The person pretending to be Spencer admitted to “dabbling” in steroids, said that Clemens took them “no question,” and that nobody should assume that Jeter and Rivera didn’t. He also tried knocking Jeter down a few pegs on the leadership totem pole.
Well, it was Jeter who was listening to the interview a day later and came to the rescue (of course), having one of the Yankees staff call Spencer to alert him. That’s why he’s the Captain!
Spencer, who told ESPN New York by phone that he heard a portion of the interview and “about threw up,” confirmed that he and ESPN Radio 104.5 The Team host Mike Lindsley had been trying to set up an interview through email. A connection on the air was never made, yet someone pretending to be Spencer called in and conducted an interview anyway — much of which you can hear here .
Spencer also issued a statement:

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Mets closer Bobby Parnell shut down with herniated disc (NBC Sports)

Bobby Parnell has been one of the few bright spots for the Mets this season, saving 22 games with a 2.16 ERA in his first full year as closer, but now he’s headed to the disabled list with a herniated disc in his neck. Parnell hadn’t pitched since July 30 and Adam Rubin of ESPN…

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