Sportsbeat – 5-19-11

Given the Islanders 40 year-history here most of us are rooting for them to stay. Nassau County Chief Executive swears that the $400 million bond that he wants his financially ailing county to float that will build a new Islanders home will not cost taxpayers a dime. If that’s true, and that county services will not be adversely affected, then why is a special election being held on August 1 when a lot of Nassau residents are on vacation? Wouldn’t it make more sense to hold the vote on Primary Day in September?

It is not an official Mets season until two fielders collide trying to catch a ball; in this case it was David Wright and Ike Davis coming together to catch a infield pop-up in Denver with Davis winding up on the disabled list.

Ike’s injury created a vacancy for one-time wunderkind Fernando Martinez to come up to the big club. Martinez was once the crown of the Mets farm system but his stock plunged faster than real estate in Florida after enduring one injury after another. It will be interesting to see how he now performs given today’s far lower expectations.

Is there some law that says that David Wright and Jason Bay have to strike out at least twice a game each?

It is funny that three Mets players who were not on the radar screen in spring training–centerfielder Jason Pridie, reliever Mike O’Connor, and starter Dillon Gee–have become key contributors to the Amazin’s.

As Derek Jeter inexorably heads towards 3,000 career hits, he has been the subject of media scrutiny for getting off to a slow start judged by his lofty standards, as well as a pair of a pair of a books: a thorough biography from Ian O’Connor called The Captain (Houghton Mifflin) and a coffee table hero worshiping tome from Abrams Publishing that has the backing of America’s alleged paper of record: Derek Jeter: From the Pages of The New York Times.

Jeter’s understudy, Eduardo Nunez, is very highly thought of by a pair of young Phillies pitchers, Vance Worley and Michael Stutes, who competed against him at the Triple-A level. “Nunez definitely has superstar capabilities,” Stutes told me prior to a Mets-Phillies matinee at Citizens Bank Park last month.

Speaking of the Phillies, Philadelphia Magazine paid tribute to the most devoted Phillies fans last month. Profiled were 86 year-old Janette Volpe who keeps score of every game while decked out in Phillies regalia from head to toe, as well as the legendary Susan Finkelstein, who was arrested and convicted of offering sex to an undercover Philadelphia cop in exchange for playoff tickets last autumn. Let’s hope that New York Magazine can one day salute Mets and Yankees fanatics in similar style!

Sure, the Phillies are on top now but it wasn’t always that way. Philly sportscaster Steve Bucci remembers one of the worst teams in baseball history, the 1972 Phils, in his new book, the oddly titled Drinking Coffee with a Fork (Camino Books). ‘72 was the year that Steve Carlton won 27 games for a team that won a grand total of 59 yet he lost four times to the Mets.

No one has written more books about the Mets than Matthew Silverman. He is the first to get a jump on the Mets golden anniversary with The New York Mets 50 Amazing Season: The Complete Illustrated History (MVP Books) an oversized book designed as a Father’s Day present for long-suffering fans of our Flushing heroes. Silverman has another book that has just been released, Baseball Miscellany (Skyhorse Publishing) in which he delves into the origins of team names, as well as the terminology, rules and rituals of America’s pastime. It is a fast and fun read.

Bob Nightengale of USA Today Sports Weekly has quietly been one of baseball’s best scribes for years. His cover story earlier this month titled “Rust Belt Worries” was an excellent economic analysis on why the Tigers, Pirates, Indians and Reds are having trouble drawing customers even though they are playing well on the field.

Jets head coach Rex Ryan has drawn a lot of attention with his book, Play Like You Mean It (Doubleday), for belittling the Giants but what should generate attention is how Rex has been able to overcome dyslexia to become a successful NFL coach. The world of Xs and Os is not easy on even those who do not have any learning disabilities.

USA Network has long used the tag line “Characters welcomed” to describe why viewers should watch their programming. Since 2009 the network has commissioned short films ranging from 5 to 15 minutes featuring memorable, albeit sometimes strange, characters. One of this year’s films is the superb Duck about a young boy in 1980s L.A. who overcomes some paralyzing phobias by taking up boxing.

The North Shore Country Club in Glen Head was in receivership and in danger of being converted into upscale housing. Real estate developer Donald Zucker, who first took up golf in his 50s, bought the property last year and has sunk millions into redeveloping it. The result is that it is now one of Long Island’s best courses. Golfers should find most holes friendly but there are some steep slopes, bunkers and sand traps on the back nine so it is still challenging.

For those who like golfing at resorts, the folks at Sandals, who are in the midst of celebrating their 30th anniversary, have spruced up a course in the Bahamas that was designed years ago by Greg Norman but whose former operators let it deteriorate.

Red Bull has long been the predominant force in energy drinks but it starting to get serious competition from Liquid Lightning which is boasting how it is sodium-free.

Few groups are as homophobic as professional athletes. That is why it took a lot of courage by Rangers tough guy Sean Avery to come out in favor of gay marriage. Avery is currently dating supermodel Hilary Rhoda.

Citi Field will be hosting a soccer match on June 7 between the Greek and Ecuadorian national teams. Since both ethnic groups are well represented in Queens, expect it to be more packed than it is for most Mets games.

The USTA continues to make good use of the Billie Jean King National Tennis Center in Flushing Meadows. On Saturday, May 14, they sponsored a Highway to Health event to promote the fight against childhood obesity as Dr. Mehmet Oz made a guest appearance. The USTA debuted its Tennis for Under 10 initiative as a way of getting pre-teens to appreciate the game.

The Paul Giamatti movie, “Win Win,” which earned great reviews and did surprisingly well at the box office has had a beneficial effect on amateur wrestling (not to be confused with the WWE!) On May 5, a good sized crowd came out to Duffy Square in Times Square to watch NYC high school talent compete as part of “The Beat the Streets” program. Later, grapplers from Russia and the USA went at it.

If you’re a cycling enthusiast who wants to win a trip to the Tour de France, visit Cannondale Bicycle’s Facebook page to enter.

In my last column, I berated McDonald’s for dropping Asian Chicken Salad from it menu. Some folks at Oak Brook, Illinois must have been listening to me because it is coming back albeit just for the summer. Mickey D’s is also introducing an improved Premium Chicken Sandwich to replace its disappointing Chicken Griller as well as a new pineapple mango smoothie.

Taking care of your car is always important when the weather starts warming up. It is particularly crucial with gas prices heading north of four bucks. Having new Michelin tires on, as well as putting Valvoline Nextgen motor oil in, your car should provide better driving efficiency.

About the Author

Joe McDonald

Joe McDonald is the founder and former publisher of NY Sports Day. After selling to i15Media in 2020, he serves as the Editor-in-Chief and responsible for the editorial side of the publication. In the past, Joe was the managing editor of NY Sportscene magazine and assistant editor of Mets Inside Pitch. He has covered the Mets since 2004.

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