Sports Beat “The Gift of A-Rod”

What surprises me most about the A-Rod scenario is how many members of the media were urging Rodriguez to meekly accept the 2014 season-long suspension handed down to him by arbitrator Frederic Horowitz.

If Rodriguez were take to take Major League Baseball to court then all of the sordid dealings between MLB and Biogenesis founder Anthony Bosch, who was A-Rod’s onetime confidante and alleged supplier, would come out. That is a gift to every media outlet in the world. The problem is that most sportswriters and broadcasters like covering games and detest the idea of hanging around a courthouse to cover real news even though that story would clearly be in the financial interests of their media companies.

Even if a trial were to prove that A-Rod was the biggest PED juicer of all-time, he could do significant damage to Bud Selig and Major League Baseball. I am still trying to wonder why he is suing the Major League Baseball Players Association. That won’t endear Alex to his teammates whenever he does return. Nonetheless from a media viewpoint. A-Rod is the gift that keeps on giving.

To no one’s surprise, former Braves pitchers Greg Maddux and Tom Glavine were elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame, as was slugger Frank Thomas, in their first year of eligibility. You have to feel for Kings Park native Craig Biggio who feel a measly two votes short of induction.

What is most bothersome about the voting is that Mike Piazza received only 62% of the vote in his second year of eligibility. He should have been an automatic in his first year on the ballot but too many members of the Baseball Writers Association of America have taken a “guilty until proven innocent” view of Piazza because they suspect that he used steroids. It doesn’t matter to them that he never tested positive; wasn’t named in the Mitchell Report; nor was he called to testify before Congress the way other big name players were. These BBWAA guys are guilty of McCarthyism with steroids replacing Communism as the bogeyman.

It is going to be difficult for Mike to get the votes necessary for enshrinement in 2015 as well since Pedro Martinez, Randy Johnson and John Smoltz should all be shoo-ins and you have to figure that Craig Biggio will finally squeak in as well.

The Brooklyn Nets have been the hottest NBA team of 2014. The Nets got some needed revenge against the Knicks on Martin Luther King Day by blowing them out 103-80 at Madison Square Garden. A derisive chant of “Brooklyn!” filled the Garden rafters in the final minutes of the game. That had to be music to head coach Jason Kidd’s ears after the smackdown that the Knicks gave the Nets at the Barclays Center six weeks ago. Nets point guard Deron Williams returned after missing a number of games with his latest ankle ailment. He played well but the real story was that much maligned center Andray Blatche totally outplayed his Knicks counterpart, Tyson Chandler.

I asked rookie Nets center Mason Plumlee if the Nets’ previous embarrassment against the Knicks was something that fans and the media swell on but players out of their minds the moment a game is over. “No, we spoke about what happened at the Barclays Center with the Knicks at a team meeting. Believe me, it was a motivator!”

I then followed up by asking Mason if the December 5 Knicks debacle served as a wake-up call for the Nets. “Actually we have had quite a few wake-up calls this season!” Plumlee candidly answered.

Piers Morgan interrogated Lefrak City native Kenny Anderson on his CNN program last week for being one of a number of former NBA players who went on Dennis Rodman’s latest ill-advised tour of North Korea. Although he sounded incredibly naive, Kenny patiently explained that he was unaware of what a totalitarian state North Korea is. He added that he owed Dennis Rodman a favor for frequently coming through for him in the past. He made it clear that he realized that he was in over his head the moment he set foot in Pyongyang and tried to stay in his hotel room as much as possible.

Morgan lambasted him for shaking hands with Kim Jung-Un and for accepting monetary remuneration for the trip. Anderson smartly asked Piers what he would have done in a similar situation. If he refused to shake the North Korean dictator’s hands he might have met the same fate that Kim’s uncle did. Although he earned millions as an NBA star, Kenny has admitted that he squandered it all and has to do whatever he can to feed his family.

Jets general manager John Idzik did the smart thing by extending Rex Ryan’s contract into 2016. Idzik won’t be signing tight end Kellen Winslow, Jr. to a contract extension however after he was arrested by New Jersey law enforcement authorities for lewd conduct which apparently was a euphemism for publicly masturbating. For a guy who did not catch many passes for the Jets last year, he sure was caught in the act!

I was sorry to learn that Chris Wheeler will not be part of the Phillies TV broadcasting team next year. It would be nice if the Phillies could find a way to place him back in the radio booth. Like John Sterling and Mike Francesa, Wheeler is either beloved or despised. I have long been a fan however. He bleeds Phillies red but he is quite candid when they are screwing up on the field which was often last year. He also points out things about the opposing team which the home broadcasters would never say. That makes it fun and educational for Mets fans to eavesdrop on the Phillies’ broadcasts when they are playing the Amazin’s.

Speaking of the City of Brotherly Love, Philadelphia Magazine writer Richard Rys took his life in his hands when he attended various Eagles games in 2013 dressed in the jerseys of opposing NFC East teams when they were playing at Lincoln Financial Field. He wanted to see if the maniacal reputation of Eagles fans was true. He claims that while he did encounter a few yahoos who threatened him with violence most folks attending the game were polite and at worst offered gentle razzing.

The Mets signed former Washington Nationals starting pitcher John Lannan to a minor league contract last week. Lannan grew up in Long Beach and still lives there.  Mets general manager Sandy Alderson is hoping that home cooking will help revive Lannan’s career.

It was good to see that old buddy Todd Pratt was one of the instructors at the Mets’ fantasy camp in Port St. Lucie two weeks ago. Todd was one of the leaders on those very good late ‘90s Mets team and did a fine job backing up Mike Piazza. He delivered numerous big hits including hitting a home run in 1999 that won a playoff series against the Arizona Diamondbacks.

In spite of his heroics, and being both a fan and media favorite, Mets management has not done right by him. They did not invite him to the 2008 closing ceremonies of Shea Stadium even though he had one of the biggest hits in that ballpark’s history. They also never let him manage or coach in their minor league system.

Todd has a great baseball mind and reminds me of Clint Hurdle because he can come up with a humorous quip for writers and knows how to both teach and motivate players. Perhaps Mets management is looking at Todd in a more favorable light now. Better late than never.

Former SNY air personality Julie Donaldson will be one of the 84 NBC sports reporters at the Sochi Winter Olympics. MSG Network sports anchor Al Trautwig will be broadcasting a few events as well.

The WWE used the recent Consumer Electronic Show in Las Vegas to announce that it was forming a digital pay network similar to the business model that Netflix uses. The new cable network, El Rey, announced that it has plans to bring an independent wrestling promotion to its programming lineup.

Billy Sample, who had a nine-year career playing for the Braves, the Rangers, and the Yankees, and has done some broadcasting work for ESPN as well as some freelance sportswriting, has written and directed a small budget film titled Reunion 108. The movie is a comedy that looks at a gathering of former players for a certain minor league team. It will have its New York area debut on February 4 at the historic Lafayette Theater in Suffern, New York.

Talk about bad timing. Spira Footwear unveiled a line of “Duck Dynasty” running shoes just as its star, Phil Robertson, was uttering his inflammatory words about homosexuals. No word as to whether Spira is offering a discount to GLAAD members!

I just returned from an all too short vacation in the Dominican Republic. I stayed in the resort city of Punta Cana but I made an excursion to the nation’s capital, Santo Domingo. On my way I passed through the town of San Pedro de Macoris which has produced 76 Major League Baseball players. The media has always made San Pedro de Macoris sound as if it were a backwater town in the mountains somewhere. The truth is that it is a very sizable Santo Domingo suburb. No one would be shocked to hear that Orange County, California has produced a lot of ballplayers so enough about San Pedro de Macoris.

I had the most relaxing vacation at the Grand Palladium Bavaro in Punta Cana. This was my first time at an all-inclusive resort which means that all of your meals, activities, and entertainment are included in the price of lodging. There were clear blue skies with temperatures in the low 80s nearly every day. The white sand beaches and blue water were magnificent.

While there are plenty of all-inclusive resorts in the area, the Grand Palladium Bavaro has some of the most magnificent grounds you will ever find and it is a quick 20-minute cab ride from the airport. Other resorts are a lot further. There are free shuttle buses to nearby shopping centers so that you can buy goods without paying ripoff tourist prices as well as complimentary vans to take you to nearby cigar factories where some of the world’s best stogies are hand-rolled.

When all is said and done, the odds are that a vacation in Punta Cana is still less expensive than one in Miami Beach once you factor in all of the costs. The good weather is also more of a sure thing than in South Florida this time of year.

The frigid polar vortex that we have been experiencing here in the Northeast can seriously dry out skin and cause painful fissures. It is advisable to use quality moisturizers such as those made by Burt’s Bees, Derma E, Jack Black, Menaji, Columbia Healing Cream, and the humorously named Kiss My Face are highly recommended.

January has traditionally been a time when companies interview a lot of job applicants as new budget years get underway. Looking sharp is a prerequisite even on a tight budget. A website, has a huge selection of quality neckwear at very reasonable prices including those classic power yellow ties.

Women can check out the companies sister website, for both knit wraparounds for cold winter days as well as fashionable dress scarves.

Speaking of outerwear that keeps you warm, a former classmate of mine, Debbie Ingber Deutsch, who for my money is the Christie Brinkley of Forest Hills High School, has started a company called Copacetik that sells pretty cool-looking unisex wool-knit jackets that are fleece-lined so you don’t itch. You can check out the Copacetik site on Facebook or email [email protected] for more information.

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