(Neil Miller/Sportsday Wire)
Perceptive New York Post columnist Kevin Kernan perfectly captured Mets ace Matt Harvey’s aloof and narcissistic nature in his column last week. Kevin reported that Harvey made sure that the media saw him arrive in style in his brand new Maserati. Major League players are wealthy and have the right to purchase anything that they want (as long as it’s legal of course) but most of them shy away from expensive and flashy sports cars for a number of reasons. They understandably attract the attention of both law enforcement authorities and criminals. More importantly, they are also not the safest cars to be in if an accident were to occur.
Of more pressing concern to Mets fans, Harvey is always blase at best when it comes to the topic of signing a long-term contract with the Amazins. He is scheduled to be a free agent in three years. He has every right to test the market for his services but it wouldn’t kill him to at least say that he would like to remain a Met the way that his fellow starter, Jacob deGrom has.
If Mets fans were concerned about whether their team would be able to retain their services of Yoenis Cespedes then they will be absolutely apoplectic in 2018 which is scheduled to be Harvey’s walk year.
It’s with that foresight that Kevin Kernan believes that it might not be unfathomable for Mets GM Sandy Alderson to consider trading Harvey sooner rather than later so that the team can get better assets in return for him. No one is suggesting that the Mets deal Harvey in a fit of pique, as what happened in 1977 when they shipped Tom Seaver to the Reds for what turned out to be a relatively paltry haul in return, but Harvey should not be considered to be an untouchable by any means.
The late comedian Rodney Dangerfield would have certainly have found a kindred spirit with interim Brooklyn Nets head coach Tony Brown when it comes to getting no respect. Last Wednesday the Nets held an elaborate ceremony for their new practice facility in the Sunset Park section of Brooklyn. While a number of Nets players were invited to attend, including star center Brook Lopez who sat on the dais and spoke to the audience, Tony Brown was not present and my guess is that it wasn’t an oversight. At his introductory press conference Friday night at Barclays Center Nets general manager Sean Marks wouldn’t even state that Brown would be in the mix of candidates to the team’s head coach next season.
A Nets executive informed me that they looked at sites in Queens for their practice facility, since our borough is home to two airports, but decided to keep all of their operations in Brooklyn. This struggling team missed a golden opportunity to expand their geographic reach.
The Yankees received unfortunate news when it was learned that they would not have the services of their young and talented first baseman Greg Bird for this season as he is recovering from shoulder surgery. Bird did a fine job filling in for Mark Teixeira after he fractured his shin.
At a recent Topps event to promote his 2016 card, Yankees outfielder Carlos Beltran said that he has no plans for retiring when his contract expires at the end of this season. Beltran is entering the last season of his three-year deal.
Pundits can argue who is dumber: former Mets reliever Jenrry Mejia, who has blown millions in future career earnings by getting a lifetime ban from Major League Baseball for testing positive for steroids for the third time, or boxer Manny Pacquiao who quickly burned all the goodwill the public had for him with idiotic anti-gay slurs. Nike quickly and wisely abrogated its multi-million dollar endorsement deal with Pacquiao.
The Philadelphia Phillies will no longer be heard on their longtime 50,000-watt AM radio home, WPHT 1210 AM (baby boomers may remember the station by its old call letters, WCAU.) The Phillies will only be heard on the FM dial in 2016 and that is bad news for New York baseball fans who liked to eavesdrop on Phillies games since the FM signal does not travel as far as that of a powerhouse AM frequency although the sound quality is better on FM.
It was always fascinating listening to the perspective of the Phillies announcers over the years when their team played the Mets. I remember how Chris Wheeler poked fun at Mets fans who were cheering for their team at old Veterans Stadium because they thought that every fly ball the Amazins hit was going to be a home run. “They must have depth perception problems!” Wheels quipped. I wrote a letter to him explaining that even though the dimensions of both Veterans Stadium and Shea Stadium were similar, because Veterans Stadium was an enclosed circular ballpark where you couldn’t see the surrounding neighborhood the way you could at Shea, it gave the appearance of being a small bandbox. Chris graciously wrote me back and said that I made an excellent point and that he was just having some good-natured fun with Mets fans.
I will miss listening to the current Phillies radio team of Scott Franzke and Larry Anderson who are excellent conversationalists as was providing the traditional play-by-play and color analysis.
It was absolutely painful watching the Seton Hall-St. John’s men’s basketball game from Madison Square Garden this past Sunday. The fact that St. John’s lost by one point, 62-61, was the least of it. What was most bothersome was that the Red Storm hit only 10 free throws out of 24 attempts. To not hit 50% of your foul shots is inexcusable. Seton Hall wasn’t much better as they connected on a barely passing 60% of their free throw tries.
The annual leisure-time products trade show, Toy Fair, had a large sports component. Franklin Sports unveiled how you can use their website to make customized batting gloves. They also showed off equipment for a fast-growing new sport, pickleball, which is a hybrid of tennis, squash, and ping pong. Trangle Creations displayed a regulation basketball called Nightball that allows you to keep playing even when it’s dark and lighting is either poor or nonexistent. Kick-It Trainer is a teathered soccer ball that allows you to practice your kicking even in a small apartment. There’s no risk of breaking anything and you don’t have to retrieve the ball! Alex Brands’ POOF has become a leading competitor to Nerf with its line of foam footballs, basketballs, and baseballs and bats sets.
Eye-hand coordination is important for all and especially for kids. Zing Toys makes archery sets with foam arrow tips to eliminate the risk of injury. Ideal’s Rack ‘Em Tabletop Pool is a great way for young kids to learn to handle a cue stick.
Skateboards were represented at Toy Fair as well as both Maverix and Razor displayed their latest models. Razor’s Ripsurf with its wide base, which makes it easier to stand, and aerodynamic slits, which make it easier to negotiate turns, was particularly impressive.
Sports collectibles were big at Toy Fair as well. Wicked Cool Toys has added more WWE stars and legends to its 31’’ line of mini statues including Seth Rollins and “Stone Cold” Steve Austin. Breyer, which has long made miniature replicas of famous horses has several lines of portrait models dedicated to last year’s Triple Crown winner American Pharoah. Girls’ doll manufacturer Madame Alexander will be making one in honor of NASCAR star Danica Patrick.
On the non-sports game front, USAopoly will be coming out with numerous Star Trek board games in honor of that show’s 50th anniversary this spring. Fans of politics, which arguably could be the toughest contact sport of all, will enjoy The Presidential Game, which is a board game that simulates what candidates have to do to get to 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. The inventor of the game, Regina Glocker, made sure that there are lot of humorous and candid observations in the cards that are dealt to the players.
The big film that hits theaters next month is “Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice.” I have always been under the impression that Superman is the king of comic book action heroes. David Beige, who is an executive with the would famous Rubie’s Costume Company of Richmond Hill, told me that Batman costumes and games far outsell Superman properties. Score one for the Dark Knight over the Man of Steel.
The warm weather of this past weekend reminds us that spring isn’t too far away. Other signs of spring are the arrivals of two great food festivals. Village Voice Choice Eats takes place at Manhattan’s Metropolitan Pavilion on March 11 while the perennial king of food tasting events, A Taste of Queens, that’s run by the Queens Economic Development Corporation, will be held at the Hall of Science on May 3.