Sportsbeat 5/18/12

Admit it; you thought that the injury-plagued Mets were going to sink like a stone for the rest of the season after they were swept by the Astros in Houston a couple of weeks ago. Mets manager Terry Collins has done a remarkable job at getting the maximum productivity out of frankly a less than stellar collection of talent.

Now before Flushing fans get too giddy there are some troubling signs. Yes, it’s easy to say that a win is a win but there is something bothersome and demoralizing when starting pitchers don’t get w’s. First baseman Ike Davis, who missed a good chunk of last season with a troublesome leg after a collision with David Wright, has not shaken off the rust as he has been hitting below .200 since Opening Day. Every team needs to get offensive production out of their first baseman and the Mets in particular can’t afford the luxury of a good-field, no-hit first baseman.

Mariano Rivera has to be somewhat relieved that he never announced that 2012 would be his last season as the Braves’ Chipper Jones did. The news that he shattered his knee shagging fly balls as part of his pre-game exercise routine genuinely saddened the entire baseball community. A medical examination to assess the damage to his leg revealed a blood clot that is far more threatening to his playing career and life than the ACL tear. “Nothing good ever comes from the term ‘blood clot,” said Rivera in one of the greatest understatements of all-time.

Despite all of the gloomy medical news that he has received, expect Mariano to be on the mound in spring training in Tampa this coming February.

Kudos to Alex Rodriguez for agreeing to promote the Metropolitan Museum of Art gratis in their latest advertising campaign that includes celebrities from all walks of life including current Saturday Night Live cast members Seth Meyers and Kristen Wiig. Very few professional athletes ever admit to frequenting museums. It would have been fitting however if the Met had chosen a member of the Mets as well. RA Dickey would have been a credible endorser.

Yankees fans would be wise to make two purchases for their baseball libraries. One-time Yankees PR director and well-respected author Marty Appel has just written the definitive history of his favorite team, Pinstripe Empire (Bloomsbury). While this easily could have been a dull encyclopedia, Marty has instead opted for a somewhat breezy take on Yankees lore with his insider’s knowledge. He writes about how no Yankees executives were present at Joe DiMaggio’s funeral because DiMaggio’s attorney in his later years, Morris Engelberg, alienated anyone who tried to come into contact with his client. He also recalls how when Ron Blomberg became the first designated hitter to ever appear in a major league game and that he (Appel) had the foresight to send the bat to Cooperstown where it is still on display at the Baseball Hall of Fame Hotel.

New York Times sports columnist Harvey Araton has made his newspaper’s best-seller list with Driving Mr. Yogi (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt), an endearing look at the longtime friendship between Yogi Berra and Ron Guidry as well as anecdotes about their individual lives. Who knew that Berra was almost a scratch golfer or that he enjoyed Guidry’s favorite Cajun delicacy, frogs legs?

Mets fans have a pair of books to love as well. Tales From The 1962 New York Mets Dugout (Sports Publishing) written by Janet Paskin with a delightfully humorous forward by longtime Mets blogger and South Shore resident Greg Prince recollects both the on and off-the-field exploits of Casey Stengel’s troops.

Matthew Silverman, who has written three previous books about his beloved team, had to write another for the Mets’ golden anniversary. Best Mets (Taylor Trade), is Silverman’s take on not only the best players and managers in their history but also the best books written about them (he doesn’t list his own), best team broadcasters, and even the best bars for fans of the Amazin’s.

I just got back from a long weekend in Chicago and I have to say that all that I have ever heard about Wrigley Field lives up to billing. It’s rare to find any arena or stadium in a residential area but that is indeed the case at Wrigley as it is nestled among the stately townhouses of Chicago’s North Side. Yes, there are some sight obstructions caused by poles and the steps are steep to climb if you are sitting in the upper level, but the ivy outfield walls and the organist playing throughout the game really do transport you to another era.

The Mets will be in the Windy City from June 25-27. JetBlue has two daily inexpensive flights to O’Hare. The Magnificent Mile Marriott, located in the heart of the city as well as two blocks from the Red Line subway that takes you to Wrigley, offers terrific rates that time of year.

San Diego is a great place to beat the August heat of New York. The Mets will take on the Padres in beautiful Petco Park the weekend of August 3-5. Since the Padres have struggled in recent years, tickets are very reasonably priced.

JetBlue has two daily flights from JFK to San Diego. There are plenty of hotels near Petco Park since it is in downtown San Diego but my suggestion is to stay a bit north in La Jolla. The Hyatt Regency La Jolla right off I-5 nicely balances its business and leisure business. The Olympic-style swimming pool and hot tub make you feel as if you are at a resort. Its location is adjacent to the University Town Center section of San Diego which is home to great restaurants and plentiful shopping and is a major public transit hub.

If you like historic properties with a very friendly staff, you can’t go wrong with the Grande Colonial Hotel which is nearing its 100th anniversary. Located a block from the Pacific Ocean in tony La Jolla Village, the Grande Colonial offers old school affordable California luxury and the sunsets can’t be beat here.

Topps, the company best known baseball cards, is putting out US Olympic trading cards. Among the athletes that will be featured is Syosset native and WNBA star Sue Bird.

How do you define a successful season for the Knicks? They finally won a playoff game after a dozen years.

Belmont Park will be having a handicappers tournament from June 23-24. First prize is $35,000. There is however a $400 entry fee so only serious devotees of The Racing Forum are encouraged to take part.

If you are a one percenter who loves golf and only wants the finest, Sweet Wood Golf, which makes custom-made hickory golf clubs, was showing off its wares at the Luxury Review trade show in Manhattan last week. These are the kind of clubs that Bobby Jones used back in the day.

Woodbury-based Arizona Iced Tea used the annual National Restaurant Association trade show held last week at Chicago’s McCormick Place to introduce its line of Golden Bear lemonades that features a photo of golf legend Jack Nicklaus on the cans.

Executives from ZICO Premium Coconut Water were also at the NRA show promising that they would be adding a latte flavor to their line that already features chocolate and pina colada flavors. Coconut water has more potassium than bananas and can replenish lost electrolytes from sweating so it is the perfect beverage to have nearby when you are working out.

If you like the almond butter that you churn out at Whole Foods because it’s tasty and full of protein but aren’t crazy about the $7 per pound price tag, try SunButter’s Sunflower Spread which is every bit as delicious as almond butter but a far better value.

Quaker Oats new Whole Hearts cereal is a slightly sweeter competitor to General Mills’ Cheerios. Both cereals reportedly can lower bad cholesterol.

Speaking before of restaurants, Chipotle, the Denver-based Mexican restaurant chain is opening branches throughout the New York area including one that just opened its doors in New Hyde Park. Although it is a chain, Chipotle takes pride in buying nearly all of its ingredients from local farmers. I am looking forward to sampling its signature dish, the $6.95 Burrito Bowl.

If you go out to eat as often as I do you are bound to get your clothes stained with food remnants. Laundry products may not be the most exciting consumer goods to write about but they sure are necessary. Wisk, the company that made the ad tag line “Ring around the collar” part of the American lexicon, is now launching a“Get out the gross”campaign to promote its ability to launder dirty clothes that have been that way for some time. Wisk’s sister detergent from Sun Products, All, has developed Free Clear a detergent that eliminates many allergens that frequently cause rashes and/or sneezing which should help those who suffer from allergies. Procter & Gamble’s Tide now has pods for those who don’t want to shlep a heavy bottle of detergent with them to the Laundromat. These pods look like the small Superballs that many of us remember when we were kids. Finally for those who worry about using any kind of detergents because of chemicals, both Ecos and Ecover have chemical-free laundry liquids (can’t call ‘em detergents) them that get your clothes clean.

Coppertone has a new competitor, Australian Gold. These days nearly everyone knows that sunscreen aids in preventing skin cancer. Australian Gold has a wide array of products that will prevent the sun’s harmful UV rays from damaging your skin as well as an aloe gel that will soothe your burn in case your shoulders get too red from riding your Hooligan bike up and down the Long Beach boardwalk.

A fun way to cool off if you have been in the sun too long is to step into Starbucks and try their new Mocha Cookie Crumble Frappuccino. It’s a calorie indulgence worth experiencing. Better hit the gym right after however!

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