Mike Piazza’s big week will culminate on Saturday night when the Mets retire his old uniform number, 31. No other Mets player, coach, or manager will ever wear that number on the back of their jerseys.
While the Yankees have retired so many uniform numbers that it’s a wonder that they haven’t had to resort to triple digits for their players yet, the Mets have retired only three numbers by their own volition, Casey Stengel’s No. 37, Gil Hodges’ No. 14, and Tom Seaver’s No. 41. Former baseball commissioner Bud Selig decreed that all teams had to retire Jackie Robinson No. 42 as a way of paying tribute to the man who integrated the major leagues.
I am not being facetious when I write that it can be argued that getting the Mets to retire a number is even more prestigious than being inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame which of course Piazza was last Sunday. Jeff Idelson, the president of the Hall of Fame, is fond of saying that only one per cent of all major leaguers gain entry into the Hall of Fame. Considering that the Mets have had just over 1,000 different players and 20 managers, less than one-half per cent have had their numbers retired by the team.
Piazza should easily have been elected in 2013 when his name first appeared on the Baseball Writers Association of America ballot. A number of curmudgeonly voters refused to vote for him because they had suspicions that he used performance enhancing drugs (PED) even though he never tested positive for steroids nor was there any other concrete evidence. Nonetheless there were enough BBWAA types who took a Senator Joe McCarthy “guilty until proven innocent” attitude that kept Mike below the needed 75% of their vote mark until this past January.
Mets chief operating officer Jeff Wilpon, who has taken his blows in the media, and I have written my share of criticisms over the years, deserves a ton of credit for helping Mike get his richly deserved honor in Cooperstown. When Jeff saw that Mike received only 58% of the BBWAA vote in 2013 he decided that the Mets would induct him into their Hall of Fame. It was Jeff’s way of telling the world that the Mets did not believe the PED allegations and that no one else should either. While it took another three years for Mike clear the 75% hurdle, the percentage increased every year and there’s no doubt that Jeff’s actions helped turn the tide.
Mike Piazza is one of the brightest men who I have ever met. It’s not surprising that his 28-minute speech was superb as Mike called the 9/11 first responders “true heroes”; thanked many former teammates, managers, coaches, and family members; and quoted both Theodore Roosevelt and Pope Benedict the XVI. Oh yes, he also gave a shout-out to Queens.
The Mets had a tough nine-game road trip to start right after the All-Star break and they acquitted themselves decently as they wound with a 5-4 record. More importantly, they took two out of three from their always pesky National League East rivals, the Miami Marlins.
The New York Empire of World Team Tennis make their debut this Sunday evening at Forest Hills Stadium. The Empire, under the aegis of head coach and Douglaston native Patrick McEnroe, will have a tough first test as they will be taking on the Washington Kastles, the WTT’s perennial powerhouse.
One of golf’s four major events will be coming to the New York metropolitan area as the 2016 PGA Championship gets underway at Baltusrol in Springfield. New Jersey this week and concludes on Tuesday. There will be complimentary shuttle bus service from the NJ Transit Summit train stop if you don’t want to drive.
If you don’t have tickets to the PGA Championship, the Barclays, the first leg of the PGA Tour’s playoffs will be taking place at Bethpage at the end of August.
Although the Big Apple’s New York official convention and visitors bureau, NYC & Company, doesn’t want to promote this tidbit, New York City hotel occupancy is down from a year ago because of a glut of new hotel rooms and probably from Airbnb as well. That means that rates are down and travelers have some leverage in negotiating rates. So if you have any friends and relatives from out of town who have expressed an interest in coming to visit you this is a good time for them to come.
If you want a different kind of Manhattan hotel experience, the W Hotel on Lexington Avenue and 50th Street, has a room, 1725, that has a wide outdoor terrace covered with soy grass and a tent that can be used for camping. The W manager told me that the going rate is $2,000 per night but the cost can be amortized if you bring a big group that doesn’t mind using sleeping bags outdoors. The W humorously calls this experience “Glamping,” which is shorthand for glamorous camping.
One new attraction/dining experience in New York that should be enjoyed by all is World Yacht’s latest aquatic restaurant, Fish Bar, that is docked at Pier 81. Every evening at 6:30 Fish Bar sails between its 41st Street berth and the Statue of Liberty and returns two hours later. It’s hard to beat the scenery and the Mediterranean-style cuisine is top-notch. It’s a bargain when you consider that there is not a cover charge for the boat ride.
If you are on a budget, Fish Bar’s more established brother, the North River Lobster Company, which docks just to the north of it, is very informal and has 30-minute scheduled cruises along the Hudson River.
A World Yacht official told me that the company is thinking of putting a “floating restaurant” at the site of the defunct Water’s Edge in Long Island City but it’s waiting until the city makes repairs to the pier.
Speaking of food, Panasonic will be making a big splash in the home appliance industry when it launches its Countertop Induction Oven this fall. Size-wise, it’s a little longer than a microwave but it gives you the cooking abilities akin to using a conventional oven and/or an outdoor grill. The best part is that its on-screen display tells you how to long to cook items. While it doesn’t use microwave technology you can still “nuke” the leftovers in your fridge in it.
The best summer drama that you are probably not watching is “Aquarius” that stars David Duchovny as a fictional detective who is working in Los Angeles in 1969, the time of the Charles Manson family murders and men walking on the moon for the first time. The show truly captures the era. NBC should do a better job promoting it.