New Major League Baseball commissioner Rob Manfred seems open to ideas for improving the game experience for customers. He is trying to reduce the downtime between innings as well as making it more difficult for hitters to step out of the batter’s box between pitches. I would like to offer another suggestion that would win him plaudits. All baseball games played in the Northeast and the Midwest should be played during the daytime.
It was painful to watch Yankees pitcher CC Sabathia, never a great early season pitcher, lumber through six innings on a cold, damp night against the Toronto Blue Jays in front of a sparse Yankee Stadium crowd last Thursday night. The conditions were only slightly better the next evening as the Yankees and the Red Sox engaged in a 19-inning marathon with the Red Sox that ended at 2 AM. The teams played the following day at 1 PM. Of course there is no way of predicting when one of these elongated games is going to happen but for some strange reason a lot of them have occurred in the early part of the season.
The argument against playing all day games early in the season, which was commonplace when I was growing up, doesn’t come from team owners who worry that folks with 9 to 5 jobs would be unable to attend, but rather from cable network executives who feel that their ratings would suffer.
My answer to them is that they would get two sets of viewers. Those who would watch the game as it is played and those who would want to watch the game that they missed that evening especially if their favorite team won.
On a separate issue, since Thursday is a big travel day in baseball, Commissioner Manfred should order that all Thursday games should be matinees. As the weather warms up, a lot of businessmen like to get out of the office and entertain clients at a day game.
I was thinking about Thursday baseball matinees when I read in The Queens Chronicle last week that state senator Toby Stavisky (D-Flushing) wanted to remove Brooklyn-Queens Day as a holiday from the school calendar. When I was growing up, the Mets were well aware of this obscure holiday and would routinely draw over 35,000 to Shea Stadium on the afternoon of that first Thursday in June.
Former Mets outfielder Mike Baxter, who grew up in Whitestone, and attended Archbishop Molloy High School, is playing for the Chicago Cubs top minor league team, the Iowa Cubs. Baxter was instrumental in saving Johan Santana’s June 1, 2012 no-hitter, the only one in Mets history, by slamming into a wall to make a miraculous catch. Sadly his career suffered after the injury he endured from his heroics.
Beer has long been associated with baseball. Given the reported cardiac benefits that come with red wine, more fans are favoring it as their alcoholic beverage of choice.
Major League Baseball has issued a license to Napa Valley-based Bounty Hunter Wines to create team-branded bottles of Cabernet Sauvignon and Chardonnay. There is a New York Yankees 2011Paso Robles Cabernet Sauvignon and for white aficionados, 2012 Reserve Russian River Valley Chardonnay. Fans of the Amazin’s can imbibe New York Mets Club Series 2013 Cabernet Sauvignon.
Red is the Philadelphia Phillies’ uniform color so it was only natural that Bounty Hunter created a blended red wine in the team’s honor. The Philadelphia sports media quickly tied the wine to the less-than-sanguine predictions of how the Phils will fare this season. “They won’t need a wine cellar because they’ll be in the cellar all season long,” said one scribe. Another one was hoping that it will be served in the Citizens Bank Park press box during games to make the proceedings more palatable to watch. Meanwhile the Phillies got off to a better start than most predicted so maybe they’ll have the last laugh.
For more info on all of the big league wine options, log onto bountyhunterwine.com.
On Opening Day a clever Yankees fan hoisted a sign that read “Welcome to Year 1 A.D. (as in After Derek.)
Last Saturday night was the last regular season Islanders game ever to be held at the Nassau Coliseum. It wasn’t the big story that it appeared that it would have been at the beginning of the season since the Islanders clinched a playoff spot last week. That fact helped soften the blow of yet another game where the Islanders held a multiple-goal lead and still lost as they fell to the Columbus Blue Jackets, 5-4, in a shootout.
The 50th anniversary of the first baseball played indoors, an exhibition game that pitted the Yankees against the Houston Astros, in the Astrodome, called at the time “the eighth wonder of the world,” passed last week with surprisingly little fanfare. The Astrodome has been deserted for the most part since 2000 when a new outdoor baseball stadium, Minute Maid Park, opened in downtown Houston as a way of revitalizing a part of the city that was in decline.
A Houston official who was in town last week as part of a Texas tourism promotion told me that the Astrodome is currently offering tours in honor of its golden anniversary but added that he did not know how long that would last.
Orlando Convention & Visitors Bureau board members along with that city’s mayor, Theresa Jacobs, came to New York as well last week for the purpose of crowing about how that town was the most visited city in America as they claimed that 62 million people traveled there. Neither Mayor DeBlasio, nor any officials from NYC & Company, our city’s official tourism bureau, were on hand to congratulate the fine folks from central Florida.
Surprisingly, the Orlando officials spent more time talking about the new downtown stadium that will open for its Major League Soccer franchise than about its many famous theme parks. Naming rights have not been determined for the new facility but it will be situated a mere two blocks from the Amway Center where former Forest Hills High School and St. John’s University star Mo Harkless’s NBA team, the Orlando Magic, play.
The 2018 All-Star Game will be an Amtrak or bus ride away from us as it will be played in Nationals Park which is one of the nicest stadiums that I have been in and offers a great view of the Capitol.
One of the reasons that the Masters Golf Tournament snuck up on me this year was that for years the Greater Greensboro Open was played the week before. The Greater Greensboro has been rebranded as the Wyndham Championship and it’s now played a week before the PGA Championship in August.
This beautiful North Carolina city, which has a lot of Revolutionary War historical landmarks, is home to a lot of national youth championships in sports as gymnastics, soccer, basketball and golf.
Speaking before of the Masters, 21 year-old Texas native Jordan Spieth’s dominating victory in Augusta is probably the best thing to happen to golf since Tiger Woods burst on the PGA Tour and immediately dominated over 20 years ago. Sports television executives know that ratings for golf tournaments increase exponentially when there is a strong American golfer on the scene. We’ll see if Spieth’s presence on the American Ryder Cup team in September will reverse our bad fortunes over the last decade against Europe.
There are a lot of healthier and tastier alternatives to salty pretzels and potato chips. Both Herr’s Good Natured Selects and Hain Celestial make varieties of vegetable crisps while CJ Foods’ Annie Chun Seaweed Snacks are also very satisfying. If you do need put salt on food, you are better off using Salt for Life’s sea salt which has only 25% of the sodium content of say Morton’s table salt which is important if you are worried about blood pressure.
Nearly everyone enjoys sweet treats and here are some that have some health benefits. Boulder Coconut Chips which are dried coconut chips that taste better than their potato cousin. Fisher Nut Exactly Snack Bites combine popcorn and roasted peanuts with chocolates, caramel, and peanut butter. Justin’s Peanut Butter Cups are less sweet than the confectionary industry leader, Reese’s, but they contain United States Department of Agriculture-certified organic peanut butter and high quality cocoa beans that are packed with anti-oxidants.
You can tell summer can’t be too far behind when new refrigerated treats are being introduced. Lifeway, which is the leader in kefir, a high protein yogurt-like beverage, will be introducing banana and watermelon flavors. Breyer’s, which is obviously well-known for ice cream, has now moved into the higher end gelato market with indulgent flavors as mint chocolate, chocolate caramel, strawberry truffle, and cappuccino.