There will be a number of changes on SNY Mets telecasts this spring.
Longtime in-game reporter Kevin Burkhardt left for greener pastures, literally and figuratively, by moving to Los Angeles where he has quickly become one of the top play-by-play broadcasters for Fox Sports on both their NFL and Major League Baseball telecasts. Burkhardt is expected to replaced his understudy of the last two years, Rego Park native Steve Gelbs.
It was just learned that longtime pre and post-game host Bob Ojeda, whose contract expired at the end of the 2014 season, will not be returning. SNY executives wanted Ojeda, a member of the 1986 World Series-winning Mets, back but they couldn’t agree on compensation. Indications are that another former Mets pitcher, Brooklyn native and Brandeis University alum Nelson Figueroa, who has gotten some broadcast experience at the MLB Network, will be replacing Ojeda.
Figueroa will have big shoes to fill because Bob Ojeda was popular with fans and the media because of his refreshing candor. He could never be accused of being a shill for the home team. Having gotten to know Nelson over the years I am certain that he will be insightful and will never insult anyone’s intelligence. SNY executives are undoubtedly hoping that his matinee idol looks will draw more women to Mets telecasts.
Former Mets general manager and Newtown High School alum Omar Minaya was hired by the Major League Baseball Players Association to serve as an advisor to union president Tony Clark who played first base for the Mets in 2003. Minaya has spent the last four years as a vice president in the San Diego Padres organization and will now return to the New York area full-time. My guess is that Omar will be coming to Flushing quite often briefing both Mets players and those on opposing teams at Citi Field.
Onetime Mets pitcher and Flushing native Charlie Williams passed away last week at the age of 67 from complications arising from heart surgery. Williams will best be remembered as the player the Mets sent to the San Francisco Giants in the 1972 trade that sent Willie Mays to the Mets.
Len Berman, who grew up in Long Island City and won numerous Emmy Awards during his 24-year career as the sports anchor on WNBC-TV evening newscasts, is now doing a morning radio show on WOR (710 AM). It’s a general talk show and he is partnered with Todd Schnitt.
It’s going to be an uphill battle. First, AM drive-time radio habits tend to firmly established. Secondly, Schnitt is in Tampa while Berman is here in NYC. Even with Skype technology, the conversation doesn’t flow naturally. Third, the show is predictable talk radio. Berman plays the straight man “voice of reason” to Schnitt’s wild guy conservative shtick in much the same way that Boomer Esiason interacts with Craig Carton on sports on their WFAN morning show.
On the topic of radio, my colleague and friend from the Bronx News, Rich Mancuso, just launched a Tuesday night ( 8-9 PM) Internet sports talk show, “All Bases Covered,” on inthemixxradio.com. Many of you may remember Rich from the wrestling show he co-hosted with Jody McDonald during the wee hours of Sunday morning during the early days of the Astoria-based WFAN.
How bad a month was January for the Brooklyn Nets? It turns out that the Knicks actually won more games.
Last Friday night’s game may have been the most frustrating of the season for the Nets. Playing without perennially injured point guard Deron Williams, the Nets found themselves down by 17 points in the third quarter to the Toronto Raptors. The Nets managed to rally and lead by two points with 12 seconds to go in the game but they couldn’t stop the Raptors from tying the game and eventually winning it in overtime, 127-122. Williams’ replacement, Jarrett Jack, and center Brook Lopez, each scored 35 points.
A Lakers-Knicks matinee at the Garden on Super Bowl Sunday is the type of scheduling that the NBA and ESPN routinely did. Of course in 2015 both teams are a shell of what they were during their glory days. The Lakers came into the game with a paltry 13 wins for the season while the Knicks had only 9. ESPN did not find this matchup appealing and decided to pass on televising the game.
The Knicks won the game 92-80 primarily because their superstar, Carmelo Anthony, was able to play (he scored 31 points) while Lakers star Kobe Bryant appears to be out for the rest of the season with an injury to his left knee. Without him, the Lakers’ offense was anemic.
It is to be seen whether “Langsanity” will match “Linsanity” of a few years ago but guard Langston Galloway, who comes to the Knicks from the NBA Developmental League, has done a nice job both in scoring and assists while fellow D-League alum and NBA journeyman Lou Amundson has proven to be an excellent rebounder.
Super Bowl XLIX may have taken place in the suburban Phoenix city of Glendale, but it was the Valley of the Sun’s ritziest town, Scottsdale, that cleaned up as the high rollers stayed in its hotels or rented homes there for rents that fetched up to $30,000 for a week’s stay. The swankiest corporate parties were held in Scottsdale’s many restaurants.
As if the Super Bowl weren’t enough to keep Scottsdale officials and businesses occupied, the city was home to one of the first major stops on the PGA Tour, the Waste Management Greater Phoenix Open that coincided with Super Bowl weekend. Traffic would have been moving at a snail’s pace from Scottsdale to Glendale (normally a 45-minute trip on Highway 101) this past Sunday had Tiger Woods been in contention to the very end. Fortunately for Arizona motorists, Tiger did not make the cut and left town on Friday.
It has been 46 years since the Jets last played in a Super Bowl but it when it comes to food they are perennial NFL champs. For the second straight year, the Jets took over the Lugo Cucina located across 33rd Street from Madison Square Garden and turned it into Jets House for Super Bowl weekend. For a fee, Jets fans could enjoy unlimited pub fare as well as interact with current and former players such as Geno Smith, Nick Mangold, and Wesley Walker. Jets House was also a chance for team sponsors, Fan Duel, the largest fantasy football organization in the world, and Queens’ hometown airline, JetBlue, to promote their services to die-hard Gang Green fans.
The Jets also hold food events during the fall which raise funds for various hunger-fighting non-profits such as A Taste of the Jets and the Jets Tailgating Party that has become an integral part of the New York City Wine & Food Festival that is held the third week of October annually. In addition, the Jets sponsor classes with the Institute for Culinary Education.
Super Bowl XLIX was a great game as the leads changed multiple times but what people will remember years from now was how in the final seconds Seattle Seahawks QB Russell Wilson turned into Jets QB Geno Smith by throwing an interception when a running play from the 1-yard line would have probably given his team a victory. The New England Patriots escaped with a 28-24 victory.
Novak Djokovic and Serena Williams won the men’s and women’s Australian Open titles. File that under the more things change, the more they stay the same.
The first week of February has given a lot of exposure to a pair of singers born in our borough. Idina Menzel sang “The Star Spangled Banner” at the Super Bowl on Sunday while yesterday R&B singer Mel’isa Morgan, who grew up in Corona, is profiled this Wednesday on TV One’s weekly music documentary, “Unsung.”
Atlantic City officials stated at the New York Times Travel Show two weeks ago that the city is going to have to rely on big events to make up for the tourism shortfall resulting from the closing of three casinos lately. They aren’t wasting any time as the first ever Atlantic City Boardwalk Con will take place May 14-17. Organizers are hoping that it has the potential of the annual New York Comic Con that is held at the Javits Center every fall, or the big kahuna of pop culture, the San Diego Comic Con, that is held the third week of July in that charming Southern California city.
If you have to renew your passport, a New York City company, It’s Easy, has developed an app that allows you to take free passport photos with you smartphone or tablet (itseasy.com). It’s Easy has been around since 1976 and its main business is expediting passports and visas. It expects to do big business with the loosening of the travel restrictions between the USA and Cuba.
Being able to get a good night’s sleep on the road is never easy. While it’s not that hard to block out extraneous noises with either earplugs or using soother apps on your smartphone, blocking out pesky light in a hotel room is tougher. A new company, Perpetual Shade (perpetualshade.com), sells eye masks that are handmade from silk so that they don’t irritate any part of your face, particularly your earlobes.