Sports Beat “Mets Finish Third”

The Mets’ 3-2 come from behind victory last Sunday afternoon at Citi Field to close out the 2013 season meant that the team wound up in third place in the National League East with its 74-88 record. That wasn’t a cause for anyone to be popping champagne in the clubhouse but considering that many believed that the Mets would be battling the penurious Miami Marlins all season for the cellar this was a major accomplishment. Hardly anyone predicted that the Mets would finish ahead of the Philadelphia Phillies. Of course that is more of an indictment of an aging, overpaid ,and underperforming Phillies squad than it is a tribute to the Mets.

Nonetheless Mets manager Terry Collins, who rightfully received an extension on his contract Monday, sees finishing third as an important launching point for the 2014 Mets. “I told Sandy (Mets general manager Sandy Alderson) after we swept the Phillies down there last weekend that we were going to overtake them in the standings. This is important to us,” Collins said in his post-game press conference proudly.

It is a credit to Mets fans that Citi Field was sold out Sunday as one of the greatest players in the franchise’s history, Mike Piazza, was inducted in the team’s Hall of Fame.

Prior to the game Piazza, always the epitome of class, took the high road when asked about that other Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, New York. Even though he wasn’t named in the infamous Mitchell Report or in any Congressional hearings for using illegal steroids as a player, too many voting  members of the Baseball Writers Association of America (BBWAA) have taken a “guilty until proven innocent” approach to Piazza and other hitters who should be automatic inductees such as Jeff Bagwell.

“It’s a process and I understand that. It took Yogi Berra and Joe DiMaggio three times to get elected,” he told the media. I believe that Mike is right. Time should be an ally for him.

Last Friday the Mets brought a number of their top prospects to Citi Field for the Sterling Awards ceremonies that honor the best players in their farm system.

Allan Dykstra, a strapping 6’5″ first baseman who played for the Binghamton Mets, said that he was not related to disgraced former Mets centerfielder  Lenny Dykstra who served prison time for engaging in fraud. “I have never been contacted by Jim Cramer for stock market advice,” he said with a laugh.

Noah Syndergaard and Rafael Montero are the two top Mets pitching prospects. Noah admitted that he was nervous about meeting the New York press while Rafael said that he will try to learn English in his native Dominican Republic this winter.


Congratulations to Mets second baseman and leftfielder Eric Young, Jr. who led the National League base stealing title with 46 stolen bases. It is a shame that the running game has gotten less important in the big leagues for reasons that I can’t fathom.

Two Mets minor leaguers who were not summoned to Flushing for Friday’s Sterling Awards were Savannah Sand Gnats outfielder Brandon Nimmo and Kingsport Mets shortstop Gavin Cecchini. Both are former first round picks in the amateur draft for the Mets. Hopefully that is not a red flag about their future chances of making it to the big club.

Kingsport Mets pitcher Robert Whalen was thrilled to be among the honorees. “I grew up a Mets fan in the Poconos. My dad is from Flushing while my mom grew up in Woodside,” he told me.

“Daily News Live” which is broadcast on SNY weekday afternoons at 5 PM is an occasional guilty pleasure for me. The show features select members of the News’s sportswriting staff. One writer who I have never seen on that show is Peter Botte who never shies away from asking the necessary tough questions at press conferences. He is also a fine writer.

Speaking of the Daily News, their local baseball columnist Andy Martino did a fine job subbing for SNY’s Kevin Burkhardt when he was doing an NFL telecast for Fox Sports a week ago.

Kevin Burkhardt has been doing in-game reports as well as pre and postgame work on SNY telecasts since the Mets cable home debuted in 2006. His NFL workload has increased significantly in recent years. My guess is that Fox Sports will work him into their baseball broadcasting team next spring. Kevin told me that he expects to be back on SNY but it wouldn’t surprise me if he is doing bigger and better things sooner rather than later.

Mets fans will miss the post-game giveaways that companies have to promote their products. I stocked up on Wise potato chips, Klondike ice cream bars, and bottles of Nesquik. I have to admit that chocolate milk, whether if be Nesquik, Hershey’s, or just fat-free milk mixed with Bosco Syrup brings out the little kid in me.

I am beginning to think that the Giants may not make the NFL playoffs.

Somehow Larry Ellison and his Oracle team’s victory in the America’s Cup did not seem to trigger an outburst of chest-thumping national pride. I guess yacht races are not appreciated by the hoi polloi. So Larry, in your honor I shout “USA!” USA!” “USA!”

“Saturday Night Live” made its season debut last weekend with six new cast members who are trying to replace such stalwarts as Fred Armisen, Jason Sudeikis and Bill Hader. The show wasn’t very good but longtime SNL viewers should treat the next five or six shows the way sports fans treat preseason games. You have to let the cast and its writers experiment and make their share of  mistakes.

One positive is that Beck Bennett, best known for those terrific “It’s Not Complicated” AT&T ads in which he solicits opinions from pre-K kids, is part of the new SNL troupe. The big negative is the lack of ethnic diversity in the cast of new players.

NBC won a rare head-to-head matchup with CBS last Monday at 10 PM in a battle of new shows when its “Blacklist,” which is clearly inspired by “Silence of the Lambs,” easily bested CBS’s “Hostages.” It wasn’t that the majority of TV viewers favored “Blacklist” star James Spader over “Hostages” leading man Dylan McDermott. It’s just that “Hostages,” which deals with a rogue FBI agent who wants the President to die, requires the viewers to commit to all 15 episodes since each week’s episode picks up where last week’s ends. On the other hand each episode of “Blacklist” stands on its own and therefore you can still enjoy it even if you miss the previous week’s show. CBS may learn a painful lesson that cable viewers commit more to their favorite shows on a weekly basis than broadcast network watchers do.

Ski Magazine named Wyoming’s Jackson Hole Mountain Resort as its top resort for the upcoming snow sport season.

Most people know that aloe vera is used for healing a variety of skin problems. What is not as well known is that aloe vera can be enjoyed as a beverage that contains many amino acids and anti-oxidants that boost health for both one’s digestive and immune systems. A Dallas company, The Aloe Source, has produced a tasty drink, Strawberry Kiwi Aloe Vera Nutritional Drink, which purports to have all of these benefits.

Last week I mentioned that the fall is a time for a number of interesting festival and expositions that take place in New York City. I neglected to mention that both the 51st annual New York Film Festival and the cutting edge music showcase, the CMJ Festival, are taking place this month.

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