At a press conference held at Citi Field the day before the All-Star Game that was hosted by MLB Network personality, Levittown native, and longtime Good Times reader Brian Kenny, San Francisco Giants manager Bruce Bochy admitted that Mets manager Terry Collins promised him that Matt Harvey would miss his scheduled start against the Pittsburgh Pirates so that he would be fresh as a daisy to start the All-Star Game at Citi Field. Collins admitted as much about an hour later at a separate media availability session by saying that hosting the 84th All-Star Game was huge for Mets organization. He also more or less confessed that he overplayed the concerns about Harvey’s blister on his pitching hand.
You couldn’t blame the Mets for wanting to show off their matinee idol stud ace who has quickly become the man about town as he has been profiled by USA Today, Sports Illustrated, Men’s Journal, as well as hosting a humorous man-in-the street segment for “Late Night with Jimmy Fallon.”
After a rocky start in the All-Star Game that began with him giving up a lead-off double to Angels phenomenon Mike Trout and plunking Yankees second baseman Robinson Cano with a 97 mph fastball, Harvey settled down to strike out three of the next six batters he faced including the greatest hitter in the game today, Miguel Cabrera.
I asked Harvey, who is the personification of equanimity, if he had any jitters at the start of the game that would account for his rough start. “I had some in the bullpen warming up but I felt like I was home once the game started,” he replied.
The All-Star Game itself was a bore as the American League prevailed over the National, 3-0. Sportswriters made more noise than the National League offense did as many were griping about how Aramark, the Mets’ food vendor, demanded that they keep their plates and cups no matter how dirty they were for the mediocre buffet they were serving or else they would have to pay full price for new ones. The fact that this appeared to be an unsanitary practice meant little to the Aramark manager with whom I spoke. Fans who have been overpaying for years for crummy food at sports venue concessions can take solace that the sports media felt your pain.
On a more pleasant food note, Subway Restaurants used the All-Star Game to promote their various low-fat sandwiches by bringing in their most recognizable spokesman, Jared Fogle, as well as former Mets manager and Yankees great Willie Randolph for appearances at the All-Star Fan Fest at the Javits Center, a Manhattan Subway franchise where free tote bags and sandwiches were dispensed, and a ride on the #7 train to City Field for the All-Star Game.
Jared, who was mobbed by New Yorkers as if he were a rock star, claimed that his days of running the NYC Marathon as a Subway celebrity are behind him.
Willie Randolph lit up when I mentioned to him that Subway did not use Terry Collins or his Yankees managerial counterpart, Joe Girardi, for commercial spots the way that he and Joe Torre were used for its local ad campaigns back when George W. Bush was in the White House. “I am glad that you noticed that. I guess that Subway realizes that mediocrity doesn’t help sell their product!” he said with a smile. He added that he is hopeful that he’ll receive either a managerial or front office offer from a major league team during the off-season.
Pittsburgh Pirates third baseman Pedro Alvarez, who grew up in Washington Heights, received the loudest ovation for a non-Mets or Yankees player at the All-Star Game. Alvarez admitted that he did not know why Hispanic players such as potential repeat Triple Crown winner Miguel Cabrera do not receive even a fraction of the commercial endorsement offers that Derek Jeter or LeBron James get. Alvarez, a personable alumnus of Vanderbilt University, as well as being one of baseball’s brightest young stars, would seem to be an ideal pitchman.
You have to wonder whether Nets general manager Billy King has made a Faustian bargain by trading away Gerald Wallace, Kris Humphries, MarShon Brooks, and three number one draft picks for the aging triumvirate of Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce, and Jason Terry. King is betting a boatload of chips on the Nets winning a title within the next two years.
Nobody would have bet the Knicks would get this guy when the off-season started. And they better hope that the man that they passed over in the draft 14 years ago, Queensbridge native Ron Artest, who these days goes by the moniker Metta World Peace, has something left in the tank now that they have signed him after the Lakers bid him adieu. Metta joins the Knicks just as they are learning that JR Smith may miss the early part of the 2013-14 season recovering from knee surgery.
On the topic of surgery, Dr. Mark McLaughlin a neurosurgeon in New Jersey’s CentraState Health Care System, is teaching surgical techniques to Army’s football coaching staff . Army’s football brain trust believes that being able to handle a scalpel on cadavers will lead to decision-making clarity during the tense moments of a football game. There have been hundreds of books written on how success on the football field can be correlated with running a profitable business but I have never heard of surgery as a metaphor for football.
The first sign that the NFL season is upon was when Sirius XM sponsored their annual Celebrity Fantasy Football Draft at the Hard Rock Café on July 17. While it’s nominally about getting the best fantasy team possible in actuality it’s a Friars Club-like roast with Adam Schein acting in the Jeffrey Ross emcee role. Among the celebrities taking part this year were actors Jim Belushi and Robert Wuhl, WWE star Mike “The Miz” Mizanin, NASCAR driver Austin Dillon, Jacksonville Jaguars running back Maurice Drew-Jones, and onetime Playboy Playmate Pilar Lastra.
If you have ever wanted to climb the steps of every part of Yankee Stadium and sprint all over its field while helping a good cause, the annual Runyon 5K run will take place on August 18. The funds raised from the event will go towards cancer research. For more info log onto www.damonrunyon.org/yankeestadium.