Sports Beat “Bud’s Farewell Visit”

Last week baseball commissioner Bud Selig made his final visit to Citi Field before he retires early next year. While many Mets fans and naive media members were hoping that he would say something critical of Mets ownership, he instead praised the way that they have been operated. I wasn’t the least bit surprised.

Bud said that he had no problem that the Mets are in the lowest third of MLB teams in terms of payroll with 2014 salary expense estimated to be $84 million. Why should he be perturbed? As the owners’ chief executive he would be thrilled if all clubs significantly reduced payroll. Having a team situated in the nation’s largest media market acting parsimoniously makes other team owners take notice. Even the once free-spending New York Yankees are trying to keep things in budget (albeit with a dollar figure more than twice what their counterparts in Queens are spending). The Mets’ fiscal thriftiness has to have had an effect on Yankees executives.

I think that it’s a safe statement to write that it was Bud Selig who insisted that the Mets make Sandy Alderson their general manager after they fired Omar Minaya four years ago. There are some who believe that Selig would have forced the Wilpons to sell the Mets the way he twisted the arm of former Dodgers owner, the financially troubled Frank McCourt, had he not installed Alderson as the team’s GM. Mets fans have to be envious of their LA counterparts.

The Mets and the pharmaceutical giant, AstraZeneca, held a Cholesterol Awareness Night in front of Citi Field last Monday. Long lines of people took advantage of the chance to learn what their HDH and HDL counts were free of charge by having nurses take a small blood sample.

AstraZeneca hired Mets legend Ed Kranepool to autograph photos and chat with fans as they checked in. “Just because you were once a professional athlete doesn’t mean that you are immune from the health issues that affect your age group,” he told me.

Actor John Leguizamo, who grew up in Jackson Heights, was one of the celebrities born between 1946 and 1964 who was profiled in the AARP -financed “The Boomer List” which was the latest installment of PBS’s “American Masters” series. It debuted on Tuesday.

Leguizamo reminisced about growing up in Queens in the documentary. He was present at the Paley Center Thursday night for its premiere where we discussed his favorite baseball team, the Mets. “Do you think that they’ll ever win again?” he asked out of frustration.

He felt that Shea Stadium got an undeserved bum rap. “Citi Field is beautiful but I miss seeing the Whitestone Bridge and the old Serval Zippers sign from Shea.”

It’s great when professional sports teams and leagues recognize the efforts of disabled athletes. Last week the Mets once again hosted the Major League Baseball Wheelchair Softball Tournament that featured teams supported by the Red Sox, Cubs, Yankees, and of course, the Mets. Former Mets Mookie Wilson and John Franco came out to lend support.

The Knicks also have long championed physically challenged basketball players. The Roller Knicks, a team of wheelchair hoops players, have shown off their considerable skills during many halftimes at Madison Square Garden.

Premium cable television network Epix has quietly picked up the void in producing sports documentaries now that it’s clear that HBO Sports has stopped making them in spite of all of the Emmy Awards that they garnered for them. Epix went to the best, former HBO Sports president Ross Greenburg, to produce “Forgotten Four,” a one-hour documentary about Kenny Washington, Woody Strode, Marion Motley, and Bill Willis, who integrated the NFL in 1946.

As the title indicates, this talented and brave quartet of football players has never gotten the due that Jackie Robinson did for integrating Major League Baseball. Ironically Kenny Washington and Jackie Robinson were teammates on the UCLA Bruins football team.

There are understandable reasons for their comparative obscurity. The National Football League in the mid 1940s was an afterthought in the minds of most sports fans as Major League Baseball truly was our national pastime. It is always a lot easier to focus on the accomplishments of one individual than that of a group.

The New York Jets sponsored the premiere of “Forgotten Four” at the Times Center last Wednesday night as such past Gang Green players as Tony Richardson, Emerson Boozer, Bobby Jackson, and Richard Caster were on hand as well as was team owner Woody Johnson who introduced the documentary to the audience. One of the greatest receivers in Giants history, Amani Toomer, was on hand as well.

The Giants, in spite of looking rather inept in the first half, easily handled the Houston Texans last Sunday for their first victory of the year. Before Big Blue fans get too excited however they should keep in mind that Texans QB Ryan Fitzpatrick, Harvard’s gift to the NFL, is arguably the worst starting quarterback in the league. They should also be thankful that Arian Foster, one of the NFL’s best running backs, had to miss the game because of a leg injury.

Even though it was their opening game of the season, the Columbia Lions, under the aegis of head coach Peter Mangurian, the Vince Lombardi of losing, were in mid-season form as they not surprisingly lost to the Fordham Rams, 49-7. The stingy Lions offense held the Rams to under 50 points while their potent offense made sure that they weren’t shut out on a beautiful Saturday afternoon at Kraft Stadium. Despite losing by 42 points they probably covered any Las Vegas point spread on the game.

Newsday baseball columnist and their one-time Mets beat writer, David Lennon, who most of us thought was a confirmed bachelor, married nephrologist and Flushing native Dr. Miriam Chung Friday night at the Central Park Boathouse. Dave, who grew up in the Boston area, told me that his wife is a Yankees fan in spite of growing up in the shadow of Shea Stadium. Hopefully love will conquer all. Congratulations to the happy couple!

Sheila Johnson, the CEO of the WNBA’s Washington Mystics, angrily pointed out that only 1.6% of televised sports is devoted to female athletes at the second annual Sports Business Journal’s Game Changers conference last week that spotlighted female sports executives. She also lambasted Sports Illustrated for both its swimsuit issue and for highlighting only female athletes who are physically very attractive.

Outfielder Brandon Nimmo, who was the Mets first-round pick in the 2011 amateur draft, was a recipient last week of a Sterling Award that recognizes excellence in the Mets’ minor league system. Last year he was a member of the Savannah team that won the Southern League championship and this year he was part of the Binghamton Mets that won the Eastern League title. I guess that it’s safe to say that where Brandon Nimmo goes, champagne flows! He will probably play most of the 2015 season for the Mets’ top minor league team, the Las Vegas 51s.

The New York Islanders will test out the Barclays Center for the second time in their history when they once again play the New Jersey Devils Friday night in an NHL preseason game. The Devils were also their opponent in the first game in Brooklyn that took place roughly a year ago . The Islanders will be leaving the Nassau Coliseum for the Barclays Center permanently beginning Fall 2015.

Astoria Restaurant Week is underway and will run through September 28. As a way of bringing media awareness to Astoria’s ever-growing dining industry, the Queens Chamber of Commerce held a sampling of dishes from a number of the community’s best restaurants that was simply called “Eat In Astoria” at the Astoria Bank last Thursday night. It was similar to the annual Taste of Queens event that the Queens Economic Development Corporation organizes every spring. It would be terrific if other Queens neighborhoods would host this kind of event.

Here are some additions to my Bachelor Pad/ Dorm Life 101 article that was posted last week.

A website,, is a great resource for purchasing pillow cases, duvets, bed sheets, and even kitchen and bathroom linens.

Arm & Hammer Baking Soda is getting a high tech competitor for your refrigerator. BerryBreeze is a gadget that requires four “D” batteries that unleashes oxygen ions to keep food fresh and reduces unpleasant odors.

If you want an alternative to eating out, a website called will send a chef to your abode to prepare gourmet meals for that special occasion such as a romantic dinner or one where you are entertaining work colleagues.

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