(Dave Saffran/Sportsday Wire)
The impact of the US Open on our local economy is frequently overlooked. Like the New York City Marathon, it’s a sports topic doesn’t draw a lot of interest from WFAN radio hosts. Nevertheless the Open helps fill a lot of hotel rooms in Queens. A number of the Philadelphia sportswriters who I spoke with at a Phillies game Saturday night at Citizens Bank Park were complaining about the hotel rates they would have to pay in our borough this week. The Phillies are playing the Mets at Citi Field Monday through Wednesday across Roosevelt Avenue from the Open.
Speaking of Citi Field, it’s not a coincidence that Citi’s major New York banking rival, Chase, is a major sponsor of the Open.
Another major New York-based Open supporter, American Express, just agreed to extend their contract with the Unites States Tennis Association. The AmEx advertisements along the boardwalk between the 7-train Willets Point station and Flushing Meadow Park have been a fixture for years during the Open. Maria Sharapova has just signed on as an AmEx endorser as she replaced Sloane Stephens on the boardwalk this year. Ironically, a leg injury forced Sharapova to withdraw from this year’s Open.
New York City remains the world’s center for commerce and many of tennis’s best smartly took advantage. The week before the Open, Caroline Wozniaki stopped by a midtown Godiva to promote the chocolatier’s line of soft serve ice cream. John Isner made an appearance a Lacoste store while Rafael Nadal played an exhibition match at Bryant Park to bring awareness to his clothing joint venture with Tommy Hilfiger.
The USTA has worked hard to turn the Open into a must-attend event not just for tennis buffs but for foodies as well. Celebrity chefs Masaharu Mormimoto and Ed White will be overseeing Aces Restaurant while Michael White and PJ Calapa will be doing the same at neighboring Champions in Arthur Ashe Stadium. Former tennis pro and current New York restaurateur Richard Sandoval will be serving cuisine from his native Mexico at Maya while Chicagoan Tony Mantuano will be adding pizza dishes and other small plates to Wine Bar Food. In spite of being from the Windy City, Mantuano abhors deep dish pizza. For those on a tighter budget try the sandwiches at the Morris Grilled Cheese Food Truck.
The USTA claims that over 46,000 people attended the free pre-Open qualifiers that ran from last Tuesday through Friday. It’s no wonder that Open food court regulars as Pat La Frieda, the Carnegie Deli, and Ben & Jerry’s were doing brisk business. Fresh Meadows resident Jennifer Elie lost her qualifying match as did 2014 Wimbledon juniors champ Noah Rubin, whose dad Eric, is from Bayside.
A yearly fun parlor game is trying to guess when the last American who is not named Serena Williams will be bounced from the US Open. Last year John Isner achieved the honor getting eliminated on Day 6.
One of the more dependable American also-rans every has been Robby Ginepri who could generally be counted onto make it to the third round before losing. We won’t be seeing Ginepri in Flushing Meadows anymore because he announced his retirement just before the start of the 2015 US Open.
Tennis players of all levels will want to stop by the Westin New York at Times Square between September 3 and 5 where a USTA professional coach will give complimentary advice on how to choose a racquet and everything you need to know about stringing one.
You could hear the palpable exhaling from Mets fans on Sunday as they managed to squeak by the Boston Red Sox 5-4 to garner their only win in their three-game series against them at Citi Field.
The underachieving Nationals are finally playing better as they are winning series again. The Mets will face their stiffest test in years when they play them down in DC for three games next week.
I spoke with Padres centerfielder Justin Upton in Philadelphia Saturday. Upton hit a three-run home run with two out in the ninth inning that followed a lengthy rain delay at Citi Field on July 30 to cap a Padres’ comeback in which they scored seven runs in the last three innings to turn a 7-1 deficit into an 8-7 victory.
It was easily the toughest loss of the 2015 season for the Mets and it came the day before the trade deadline. Mets chief operating officer Jeff Wilpon was so crushed by that game and concern about its aftermath that he gave general manager Sandy Alderson permission to acquire hard-hitting outfielder Yoenis Cespedes from the Detroit Tigers.
Upton was unaware of how he might have changed the Mets destiny and initially seemed disinterested to talk about it. I then joked about how the Mets should vote him a full share of any playoff money if they make it to the post-season and Upton quickly perked up. “I am glad that they are going for it!” he said with a wide smile.
The Ramones’ “I Wanna Be Sedated” was played over the Phillies’ public address system at Citizens Bank Park and it got a great reception from the Philadelphia faithful. Since the Ramones were from Forest Hills I have to wonder why they have never gotten the same love from the Mets at Citi Field.
The Barclays, the first leg of the PGA Tour’s playoffs, got a nice turnout at Edison, New Jersey’s Plainfield Country Club. As much as golf officials may want to pretend otherwise, the absence of Tiger Woods, who failed to qualify thanks to his miserable 2015 season, did take away from its big event feel when I was there on Friday. The Barclays got an unexpected boost however on Sunday from a famous Queens native. Donald Trump decided to join the gallery for an hour or so anyway and was mobbed like a rock star.
A nice touch at the Barclays was the Birdies for the Brave hospitality suite that offered complimentary food and beverages to both active military personnel and veterans. Phil Mickelson has been very instrumental in creating and maintaining this very worthwhile project. Yes, the Donald stopped by there.
One of golf’s best young players, Jason Day, won the tournament.
CBS held its annual NFL media day last Tuesday. Jets QB Geno Smith, who is out of action following his altercation with linebacker IK Enemkpali, popular topic of conversation. Two former quarterbacks who are now CBS NFL announcers/air personalities, Rich Gannon and Dan Fouts, doubted that Smith would ever be the answer to the Jets’ problems while Boomer Esiason and Phil Simms were more willing to give him the benefit of the doubt for now. My guess is that since both Esiason and Simms live in our area they want be more diplomatic.
Adam Schein has left SNY where he was half of the debating duo on “Loudmouths” (Bombastic Chris Carlin was his counterpart.) He is devoting more energy to his duties at the CBS Sports Network where he now hosts the increasingly popular Sunday NFL warmup, “That Other Pregame Show;” a nightly hour-long show on the network cleverly titled “Time To Schein;” and he will be the new host of Showtime’s “Inside the NFL.”
This is a bigger than usual year for CBS Sports. The network has the rights to Super Bowl 50 and will be televising eight Thursday night games for the second consecutive year.