Sports Beat “Patrick Walks The Plank”

Douglaston native Patrick McEnroe announced that he was stepping down as the general manager of player development for the United States Tennis Association last Wednesday. Patrick, the younger brother of tennis legend John McEnroe, had a decent professional career, and has served tennis as a CBS sportscaster and Davis Cup captain before becoming in charge of discovering and nurturing American tennis talent.

The official reason given was that McEnroe did not want to relocate from New York City to Orlando where the USTA will be opening a state-of-art training center in 2016. However it is impossible to ignore the fact that the state of American professional tennis, Serena Williams obviously excluded, is dismal. Six days after the Open got underway there wasn’t a single American in the men’s or women’s singles brackets left who wasn’t named Serena Williams. One has to believe that USTA executives made it clear to Patrick that they were not pleased with the direction of things.

It will be interesting to see who succeeds Patrick McEnroe in what many feel is a thankless job. Jim Courier is busy being the captain of the US Davis Cup team and does not appear interested in adding to his tennis responsibilities. I ran into Todd Martin, a widely admired retired tennis star, as I was leaving the Billie Jean King National Tennis Center on Saturday and asked if he would consider it. “I just started a new job!” he replied with a laugh almost immediately.

Interestingly, there may a light at the end of the tunnel for American professional tennis. Recent court rulings have loosened the rules considerably in collegiate athletics much to the chagrin of the NCAA. That means more young players can compete as professionals and not lose their college scholarships or eligibility. 17 year-old Noah Rubin, who won the boys’ juniors tournament at Wimbledon, but lost in straight sets on the second day of the US Open, is now attending Wake Forest University, and vows to compete in the 2015 US Open.

The good news for the Jets in their opening game victory was that they stopped the Raiders on nearly every third down play; their running game was terrific; and their defense tackled Oakland receivers as soon as they caught the ball. Antonio Allen was every bit as effective at cornerback as the man he replaced, the injured Dee Milliner.

The bad news for Gang Green was the incurrence of 105 yards in penalties and quarterback Geno Smith’s questionable play-calling which took the team out of easy field goal range on several occasions.

The Jets deserve praise for putting a tribute to the late comedienne Joan Rivers on the MetLife Stadium scoreboard in the second quarter. They were losing 7-3 at the time but scored a touchdown on that drive and never trailed after.

The Mets took some ribbing for firing their highly regarded vice president of ticket sales, Leigh Castergine. The odds are that her dismissal probably had more to do with internal corporate politics than the fact that the team was making her the scapegoat for their disappointing attendance. It’s not exactly a secret that losing teams don’t draw a lot of fans.

From what I have heard, Castergine was behind a lot of promotions that helped sell tickets in spite of what the Mets were or weren’t doing on the field. Giving out free t-shirts; holding post-game concerts; and instituting low-priced ticket promotions such as 4 tickets for $48 and $10 student rush tickets were all great ideas. You can imagine what a ghost town Citi Field would have been without them.

Carmelo Anthony corroborated to the rest of the media at last week’s Bloomberg’s Sports Business Summit what I reported months ago; namely that he wanted to re-sign with the Knicks because New York City gives him the best opportunity to be a business magnate the way Magic Johnson is in Los Angeles. Carmelo is an investor with a beverage company, Power Coco, and a hand-drying product, Liquid Chalk. He is now interested in funding startup digital business ventures through his just-formed Melo 7 Tech Partners.

Television weekend newscasts generally give the viewer more in-depth sports coverage than during the week. The problem is that many of these sports highlight shows are broadcast fairly late and it’s impossible to stay up to watch them, particularly on Sunday nights.

Recently Channel 55, WLNY, began a Sports Update segment that runs from 9:45-10 PM on Saturdays and Sundays. It is anchored by Steve Overmyer, who some of you may remember from his past work at SNY and his fill-in spots at Channel 2 where he does both news and sports. Overmyer has a quick wit and never talks down to his audience. He reminds me in many ways of a younger version of legendary local sports anchor and Long Island City native, Len Berman.

Pat O’Brien was a ubiquitous presence on television on both sports and entertainment news shows from roughly 1980-2010. Living the jet-set lift took its toll on O’Brien as he indulged in every kind of vice you could imagine: drugs, alcohol, womanizing, to list just a few. He has just written his autobiography titled “I’ll Be Right Back After This” (St. Martin’s Press). O’Brien doesn’t hold anything back in this cautionary tale including his candid thoughts on his past co-hosts.

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