Sportsbeat – 7/28/2012

One game does not a career make, but much ballyhooed prospect Matt Harvey bolstered beleaguered Mets fans’ spirits by living up to the hype in his major league debut as he struck out eleven while allowing no runs to the Arizona Diamondbacks. Even more miraculously, the Mets bullpen did not blow the game for him, despite the best efforts of Jon Rauch and Bobby Parnell to put the tying runs on base in the eighth and ninth innings respectively. Mets SNY voice Gary Cohen correctly pointed out how rare it is for a Mets pitcher to get a win in their first-ever game.

Harvey’s win couldn’t have come at a more opportune time. The day before, the Mets completed a winless homestand, losing 5-1 to the Washington Nationals, marking their 12th defeat in 13 games. Tempers were starting to flare as Tim Byrdak, started jawing with catcher Josh Thole, and later pitching coach Dan Warthen, after surrendering a two-run dinger to Adam LaRoche that put the game out of reach.

That afternoon was certainly the low point of Terry Collins’ tenure as Mets manager and he was steaming. Collins knows that the SNY televised post-game press conferences are as much theater as they are news-gathering (probably more the former than the latter) and he took the opportunity to lace into his troops. “We will play better than we’ve shown the past two weeks. I don’t want to hear excuses. I want accountability. Some people around here should look into the mirror,“ he groused.

Matt Harvey’s promotion was great news for his Buffalo Bisons catcher, Rob Johnson, who was also called up to the big club. If baseball doesn’t work out for Rob than he can always be an entertainer. During his earlier stint in Flushing I heard him sing “Ave Maria” in the Mets clubhouse in a perfect operatic tenor. “I enjoy classical music concerts and going to theater,” he told me. That’s a very rare admission for a professional athlete to make.

You have to give the Yankees a ton of credit. They have suffered more than their share of injuries (Mariano Rivera gone for the season; Joba Chamberlain finally ready after that freakish trampoline accident; starters CC Sabathia and Andy Pettitte have missed considerable time; and now A-Rod is out for at least two months after having his left hand broken by a pitch) and yet except for a recent West Coast hiccup, the Yankees have been a winning machine.

Probable Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney took a lot of heat for questioning whether London was fully prepared for all contingencies regarding the Olympics but it was a reminder of why I am glad that New York’s bid for these games seven years ago was rejected by the International Olympic Committee,

The IOC did not disappoint as they rejected a common sense plea to acknowledge the 40th anniversary of the senseless slaying of 11 Israeli Olympians at the hands of barbaric thugs in Munich. Longtime Olympic chairman and Nazi sympathizer Avery Brundage must have been smiling somewhere down below. You have to tip your hat to NBC anchor, and former Commack resident, Bob Costas, for acknowledging this sad anniversary by giving the minute of silence when the IOC wouldn’t.

It’s no secret that these have not been the best of times in professional boxing but there is finally a fight that should get even marginal fans excited and it doesn’t involve either Floyd Mayweather, Jr or Manny Pacquiao. On September 15, Mexico’s Julio Cesar Chavez takes on Sergio Martinez for the World Middleweight Championship at Las Vegas’s Thomas & Mack Center. HBO’s Pay-Per-View division will be showing the fight. Tecate, the Mexican beer company that is trying to increase market share in the US, is offering a $25 rebate on the telecast on specially-marked multi-packs.

It’s hard to assess the Knicks’ decision to cut ties with Jeremy Lin. From a basketball standpoint, Lin was exciting to watch in his 25 games with the Knicks. He knew how to pass the ball as well as drive to the basket with slashing abandon. He also turned the ball over a lot. Knicks GM Glen Grunwald understandably did not want to tie up the Knicks with expensive contracts that would put them above the salary cap for years to come the way that Isiah Thomas did. From a business viewpoint, the loss of revenue from jersey sales and other merchandising, not to mention the loss of excitement from both die-hard and casual Knicks fans, is damaging.

The Penn State story is obviously a sad and ugly one but I have to wonder if the NCAA is having a case of punishing the sons for the sins of the father. Today’s Penn State student athletes (and even those from the past) had nothing to do with Jerry Sandusky’s sordid behavior.

The PGA Tour comes to Long Island from August 20-26 when the Barclays, part of pro golf’s playoff system, takes place at Bethpage Black. Hopefully the weather will stay dry which was not the case with either the 2003 and 2009 US Opens that took place there. Tiger Woods, who hates playing in the New York metropolitan area, will probably take part.

Just got back from a quick trip to the Mid-South. Memphis is best known for Elvis, R&B, and rib joints on Beale Street, but it’s also home to one of the best minor league ballparks, AutoZone Park the ballpark of the St. Louis Cardinals’ AAA team, the Redbirds, as well the FedEx Forum, where the NBA’s Grizzlies play. Both facilities have helped revitalize downtown Memphis. The Marriott Residence Inn, with its apartment-sized rooms is a short walk away from both.

Little Rock is two hours southwest on I-40. The town where President Bill Clinton first made a name for himself also has a beautiful minor league ballpark, Dickey-Stephens Stadium (the Dickey is late Yankees Hall of Fame catcher Bill Dickey) which is the home of the Anaheim Angels AA team, the Travelers. Former Mets outfielder Kevin McReynolds is enshrined in the Arkansas Sports Hall of Fame located a few blocks away in the Verizon Arena. The historic Capital Hotel is a short trolley ride from both of them.

If you are frustrated with how protein shakes or various powdered drinks taste after you toss them into a water bottle following a workout, there is a remedy. Blender Bottle is a plastic device that has metallic circular whisk inside that mixes concoctions properly. Another healthy  beverage choice after exercising is Capri Sun’s various fruit and vegetable drinks that come in pouches with straws attached to them.

In case you missed it, July 27 was National Chocolate Milk Day according to the PR firm for Bosco. Yes, that syrupy childhood pleasure is still going strong as are Sun Maid Chocolate-Covered Raisins. Of course none of us worried about calories back when we were kids. Nowadays we’re far better off with Welch’s fruit snacks, and nuts as unsalted almonds, cashews, and pistachios.

Staying with snacks, Kettle Brand Potato Chips is marking its 30th anniversary by bringing back four of its favorite flavors: salsa, cheddar beer, red chili, and jalapeno jack.

Yes, a lot of us are escaping to the beach to find relief during this scorching summer. If you want to enjoy beautiful beaches when the weather turns colder here, JetBlue has announced that it will start service between JFK and Cartagena, Colombia beginning November 2. Airfares start at $149 each way.

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