(Neil Miller/Sportsday Wire)
Mets fans breathed a sigh of relief when they learned that Matt Harvey’s non-baseball malady was a urological blood clot that did not require further medical treatment because it had passed through his system. There was understandable concern when Harvey was discharging blood in his urine. It was determined that the problem occurred because he was not drinking enough liquids, and was by his own testimony, delaying going to the bathroom more than he should have been.
Once the word was out that Matt was going to be fine, the media, particularly the sports department headline writers of the tabloids went into overdrive with pee-pee double entendres. My favorites were “What A Relief!” and “Fields of Streams.”
Instead of being a good sport and going with the flow (yes, full pun intended), Harvey, as per custom, went into diva pout mode and stopped talking to the media for the final week of spring training.
Harvey’s humorless reaction makes me wonder what kind of relationship he has with his teammates. Based on my years of covering baseball, it’s clear that a big part of team culture is guys busting chops. The baseball season is a long one and you need to be able to engage in good-natured ribbing every now and then to break the inevitable tensions that are going to occur. Players have occasionally given me “the business” in the clubhouse but I’ve always taken that as a compliment. As they say at the Friars Club, “we only roast the ones that we like.”
This season Coca-Cola is replacing its rival Pepsi as the Mets official soft drink as is indicated by the change in signage in right field. There are also new food options at Citi Field which now make a Mets game a destination as much for foodies as well as baseball fans. Among the menu items that you’ll find this year around the ballpark are Fuku’s spiced chicken sandwich, Shake Shack’s bacon cheeseburger, Mama’s of Corona’s Italian special hero, Catch of the Day’s rock shrimp basket, Box Frites’ crispy chicken poppers, and my favorite, the Tribeca Grill’s red wine braised short rib sandwich.
If Mets fans want to lord it over their Yankees counterparts, Citi Field offers two gourmet pizza options: Two Boots, and the latest creation from restaurateur Danny Meyer, Papa Rosso. At Yankee Stadium, instead of Papa Rosso you are going to have to settle for Papa John’s which is the official pizza of both Major League Baseball and the New York Yankees. To be fair, Papa John’s is superior to its main national chain pizzeria rivals, Domino’s and Pizza Hut.
Congratulations to the Columbia Lions for becoming the first Ivy League team to ever win a post-season men’s basketball tournament. Granted, it’s the little-known CIT which is a far cry from the NCAA or even the NIT, but hey, beggars can’t be choosers!
There is little doubt that the men’s basketball and football programs are huge moneymakers for big universities. The players, of course, don’t share in the gravy train, because with the exception of their scholarships, they receive no compensation. Even worse, they are scrutinized by the NCAA officials if they receive a free meal from someone or take a job that they deem improper. No other student group faces these obstacles.
A lot of people believe that student athletes should be compensated. The NCAA admits that while football and basketball generate significant revenue for colleges but their argument is that nearly every other sport drains funds. It thus wouldn’t be fair to college athletes if some got paid and those that played on money-losing sports did not.
There is a simple solution that wouldn’t cost colleges a dime. Yes, colleges should pay athletes but the main problem has nothing to do with those who partake in popular sports versus those who are taking part in niche ones. The bigger obstacle would be that scholarships would then be considered income and the amount of taxes that would be owed to both federal and state governments might exceed the extra funds that the players would be receiving from their schools.
Instead of the colleges paying athletes, allow them to cut their own deals. Let them be able to sign autographs and pose for pictures with fans at a car dealership or a store opening. If a wealthy booster wants to take them to lunch or give them a job, so be it.
The IRS rules of regarding athletic scholarships as well as other forms of college financial aid can be tricky. “The EY Tax Guide 2016″ (John Wiley & Sons). It’s also a great reference for answering all of your questions on what constitutes income and allowable deductions if you are still working on your tax return. The editors do a great job explaining the complex tax aspects of the Affordable Care Act which more commonly referred to as Obamacare.
Yankees manager Joe Girardi will be praying that April goes fast and fairly painless. The Bronx Bombers will be waiting for closer Aroldis Chapman to finish serving his suspension handed down to him by MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred for his part in a domestic violence incident. Meanwhile another key relief pitcher for the Yanks, Andrew Miller, is recovering from a chip fracture on his right wrist that was incurred on a comebacker in a spring training game.
Since both the Knicks and Nets didn’t qualify for the playoffs the National Basketball Association is dispatching their respective centers, twins Robin and Brook Lopez, to serve as goodwill ambassadors on a trip to India as a way of increasing pro basketball’s global reach. Robin told me that he was a bit worried about how his stomach would fare in the south Asian subcontinent. I told him that he should stick to oven baked dishes such as chicken tikka. “That’s a good idea but I do like the curry stuff!” he replied.
Both the Knicks and Nets will probably be in the market for new head coaches. Patrick Ewing, one of the best players in Knicks history, has been an assistant coach for a variety of NBA teams and is currently serving in that capacity for the Charlotte Hornets.
One of the knocks on Ewing is that he had little tolerance dealing with the media as a player and always came across as a grump. Maybe it’s a classic case of someone learning to say hello when it’s time to say goodbye but he was in great spirits and uncharacteristically smiling and cracking jokes when I spoke with him before a Nets game at Barclays Center a couple of weeks ago. When I asked him if he would be interesting in coaching either local NBA team he quickly responded, “Absolutely! Please write that!”
Current Knicks head coach Kurt Rambis got a bit snappy at his pregame press conference Friday night before the Knicks beat the Nets at Madison Square Garden. Forward Kristaps Porzingis, who has had a fine rookie season, has a sore shoulder. Even though there is absolutely no reason for him to take any physical risks since the Knicks have been eliminated and have only a few games remaining, Rambis refused to rule out the possibility that he would return before the season ends. When asked about that logic from a corporate cost-benefit perspective, Rambis pretended that he did not understand what was being asked. He then answered with an exasperated “If he’s 100%, then he’ll play!”
The FX Networks miniseries, “The People Vs. OJ Simpson,” was a top-notch production in every respect and should win some Emmy Awards this September. In a case of imitation being the sincerest form of flattery, NBC Cable’s Esquire Network ran a 12-hour documentary on what is still called “the trial of the century” on Sunday. This June ESPN is planning to run a documentary on Simpson’s life as part of its “30 for 30″ documentary series. It will encompass not just the murder cases of Nicole Brown and Ron Goldman where he was the defendant but also his playing career as arguably the greatest running back in college and pro football history.
Jets wide receiver and Showtime Inside The NFL panelist Brandon Marshall was saluted by the New York Observer last week for his foundation, Project 375, which helps those suffering from depression. Marshall has bravely admitted that he battles personality disorders.