Sports Beat “The Mets Could Use a Buck Showalter”

The American League Division Series mirrored the regular season because in the end the Yankees were a game better than the Orioles.

The fact that the Bronx Bombers won the American League East yet again in 2012 wasn’t unexpected. What was surprising story was how the Baltimore Orioles, long a laughingstock, gave the Yankees a run for the money in both the regular season and in the first round of the playoffs.

After years of looking for quick fixes compiled with a failure to develop young talent, the  O’s farm system finally started to bear a lot of fruit. Talent is one part of the story. The real reason for their success is that their manager, the taciturn Buck Showalter, who longtime Yankees fans remember as the man who preceded Joe Torre as manager, has changed the culture around the Chesapeake River. Losing, which was routinely accepted  by the Orioles organization, would never be tolerated by Showalter. Buck had even complained about the Orioles baseball cap because it bore the face of a smiling bird, which in his mind, is a wimpy mascot.

Mets fans have to understandably be envious of the Orioles. Terry Collins has been managing the Mets longer than Showalter has had the Orioles job. Like Buck, Collins has a no-nonsense personality. He says the right things in his pre and post-game press conferences but I don’t sense even the slightest shift in culture at Citi Field on the part of the players nor ownership since he became the Mets manager two years ago. Frankly, I think that many players tuned him out as they endured their annual post-All Star Game descent in the standings.

From what I hear, Orioles general manager Dan Duquette solicits input from Showalter on player personnel and doesn’t dare make a trade without consulting him. Buck is not reticent about approaching Duquette with a list of needs and expecting them to be addressed. I can’t picture Terry Collins doing the same with Mets general manager Sandy Alderson .

Raul Ibanez has long been one of the best clutch hitters in baseball. Last year the Phillies let him walk when he became a free agent and Yankees general manager Brian Cashman quickly signed him. That’s one reason why the Yankees got to play October baseball and the Phils didn’t  this year.

Ibanez’s two home runs in the pivotal Game 3 of the ALDS made him the toast of New York. That was the nice part of the story. The unpleasant side was how the media seemed to openly celebrate the failures of the man Ibanez pinch hit for, Alex Rodriguez. A-Rod’s career may be in decline but he doesn’t deserve that kind of enmity.

These are heady times for the Brooklyn Nets. Point guard  Deron Williams graces the cover of the current issue of Sports Illustrated while the team will be followed this season on NBA-TV’s  “The Association,” pro hoops answer to HBO’s behind-the-scenes look at the NFL “Hard Knocks,” and the Showtime’s similar treatment of the baseball word few get to witness, “The Franchise.”

The just held New York Comic Con has quietly overtaken its non-related San Diego namesake as the most attended costumed geek fest in America. While it does remain a comic book trade show open to the public as the name implies, it has become a key stop for companies from all over the entertainment spectrum to showcase their wares. CBS brought in key cast members from its sophomore hit, “Person of Interest,” for a panel while ABC and the CW did the same thing for their new fall shows,  “666 Park Avenue” and “Arrow,” respectively.  Fox may have been the smartest TV network at the Javits Center last week as they brought in the cast from “The Following,” a show that will not debut until February. Advance buzz is crucial for films but it’s even more important for a new television show.

Wrestlers have always been live action cartoonish characters and they have always generated long lines of autograph seekers at comic book conventions such as this one. Among the former World Wrestling Entertainment stars who came to New York Comic Con last weekend were Brutus “The Barber” Beefcake, Tito Santana,  Greg “The Hammer” Valentine, and Booker T Huffman who was promoting his autobiography, “From Prison to Promise.” (Medallion Books).

Alex Karras, who passed away last week at the age off 77, was a pioneer in what has now become commonplace–professional athletes becoming entertainers. Michael Strahan owes a large debt to Karras.

Boomer Esiason is a man who never rests. He co-hosts with Craig Carton the very successful WFAN morning drive show;  he is one of the panelists on CBS’s Sunday NFL pre and post-game shows; and he is the radio analyst of Westwood  One’s “Monday Night Football” broadcasts. As if he’s not ubiquitous enough, Esiason has lent his name to the upscale restaurant at Bowlmor, the Times Square bowling and entertainment center. Be sure to try the lamb chops and grilled chicken there.

Speaking of Boomer, I mistakenly gave him one more job in my last column as I said that he was a spokesman for Eight O’Clock Coffee. A PR rep for the company told me that while he enthusiastically discusses Eight O’Clock on his morning show during their live commercial spots, he is not a spokesman for the brand.

After convincingly defeating the 49ers in San Francisco, 26-3, I guess that it’s safe to say that Giants head coach Tom Coughlin is making sure that his team is not resting on its Super Bowl laurels.

The Jets had a great Sunday as well as disappointing running back Shonn Greene finally had a big game racking up 161 rushing yards helping Gang Green dispense of the Colts 35-9.

Jets conrnerback Antonio Cromartie prevented Colts receiver, and long one of the NFL’s best, Reggie Wayne, from having a big day but he was flagged by the refs for four  pass interference calls. Antonio is going to be facing each opposing team’s best wideout in light of Darrelle Revis’s season-ending ACL injury. Jets head coach Rex Ryan answered affirmatively when I asked him during his post-game press briefing whether Cromartie’s pass interference calls is a cost of doing business. Cromartie said that he can prevent those calls although he added with a smile that the referees may have been a bit overzealous at times.

Fox Sports replaced the man of a thousand voices, Frank Caliendo, with another funny guy, Rob Riggle, who hosted this year’s ESPY Awards. ESPN just signed Caliendo to strengthen their Sunday NFL preview show that competes with those of CBS, FOX, and the NFL Network.

If you are looking for golf resorts where you can play beautiful courses at bargain prices, be sure to visit South Carolina from Thanksgiving right through  February when off-season winter hotel rates and green fees kick in at both Hilton Head Island and Kiawah Island. Barring a strong cold snap, you can reasonably expect temperatures there to be in the 60s in late November and early December.

Like many, I am not a fan of electronic greeting cards. A website, has created Ink Cards that allows a sender to use their computer to create a physical greeting card that is actually mailed out “old school” with a stamp to the recipient.

In a world of high tech gizmos such as Apple’s Iphone 5 and Samsung’s  Galaxy Note II it’s nice to know that someone can still invent a delightfully simple but very much needed product. A company called Cleanlogic which makes various soaps, lotions, loofas, and exfoliating cloths, has come up with Fresh Drop. The company promises that if you place a drop of this liquid product into your toilet beforehand, it will eliminate all subsequent odors. This is indeed a great country!

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