When the 2016 season ended Mets fans had ample reason to feel optimistic. The conventional wisdom was that the upcoming off-season would provide the needed time for their many injured players to recuperate from a wide array of ailments, many of which required surgery, and be good as new come spring training. Given the way the early going of the off-season has gone, Mets fans probably now feel the way Hillary Clinton supporters did last Wednesday morning.
As I discussed last week the Mets’ top slugger, Yoenis Cespedes, opted out of his contract to become a free agent, while team closer Jeurys Familia was arrested on a domestic violence charge. It’s practically a certainty that Familia will be suspended for a significant number of games next season without pay.
Familia inherited the closer role when Jenrry Mejia was suspended two different times for using illegal performance enhancing drugs. Mejia has now been banned from the major leagues for life.
Another unpleasant jolt for the Flushing faithful was the departure of fan favorite starting pitcher Bartolo Colon to the Atlanta Braves as a free agent. Colon signed a one-year $12.5 million, one-year contract with them.
You can’t blame Bartolo for taking the money and leaving the Mets where was not just popular with fans but a leader in the clubhouse for Hispanic players. You also can’t blame Mets general manager Sandy Alderson however for not wanting to match that lucrative offer. While the 43 year-old Colon was ironically the one Mets starting pitcher who did not endure any injuries in 2016, the Mets do have a bit more depth thanks to the emergence last season of both Robert Gsellman and Seth Lugo.
Nonetheless, fans are going to miss the corpulent pitcher who they nicknamed “Big Sexy” and got a kick out of watching him try to hit.
The Braves are determined to be the AARP’s favorite team next year. In addition to signing Colon, they signed another former Mets pitcher, 42 year-old knuckleball specialist, RA Dickey.
There has been some off-season good news for Mets fans.
One of baseball’s premier citizens, Mets outfielder Curtis Granderson, received yet another accolade. Two weeks ago Major League Baseball named him the recipient of the 2016 Roberto Clemente Award for his work with young people off the field. Last week, Curtis’s union, the Major League Baseball Players Association, awarded him the Marvin Miller Man of the Year Award for the same reason.
Mets SNY broadcaster and Flushing native Gary Cohen could be entering the National Baseball Hall of Fame in July. He was named one of the eight finalists for the Ford Frick Award which is the way baseball annually grants one legendary voice immortality in Cooperstown. Gary has been calling Mets games since 1989 which makes a lot of us who remember when he began feeling rather old.
Fox Sports lead voice, Joe Buck, has written a very candid memoir titled Lucky Bastard. (Dutton). The book got a lot of advance buzz when it was revealed that Buck, who famously lost his voice for a prolonged period a few years ago, did not suffer from a virus or from the wear and tear on it from the very nature of broadcasting, but rather as an unfortunate side effect from anaesthesia that was utilized in one of his many hair transplant surgeries that had been a secret until now.
He describes the ups and downs of being the son of beloved Cardinals broadcaster Jack Buck. While it did get his foot in the door the charges of nepotism did take a toll on him as did the fighting with his half-siblings. Joe details his flirtatious but nonetheless platonic friendship with actress Kate Hudson as his first marriage was falling apart. He surprises the reader with the fact that his dad and Tim McCarver did not get along. Joe makes it clear however that he and Tim have long been friends and that his dad was OK with that.
It’s hard to understand why so many sports fans detest Joe Buck. I have always enjoyed his self-deprecating sense of humor, which is constantly displayed in the pages of this tome, and his way of seamlessly meshing pop culture. On a personal note, I have met Joe Buck several times and he has never big-leagued me which is more than I can say for a lot of lesser known sports air personalities.
A lot was made of the fact the UFC was finally allowed to have a card at Madison Square Garden this past Saturday night. For years mixed martial arts was banned in the state of New York. Governor Cuomo signed legislation earlier this year to make the violent sport legal in the Empire State.
What hasn’t been discussed much however is the decline of boxing in New York State. A few months ago the New York State legislators required all ring promoters to increase the insurance policies for traumatic brain injuries caused by combat sports to a $1 million per fighter.
The cost of those premiums may be a drop in the bucket for the UFC which is flush with cash but it has had an immediate adverse effect on boxing, a sport that has been in declining popularity for awhile. Barclays Center used to have frequent boxing cards and they have all but disappeared. Brooklyn native Danny Jacobs, a perennial Barclays Center headliner, has now been forced to fight in such comparatively backwater burgs as Reading, Pa.
Even before the high cost of boxer insurance became an issue here, most of the marquee boxing showdowns had long left Madison Square Garden for Las Vegas where taxes are way less and hotel rooms are cheaper and more plentiful. A good case in point is this Saturday’s bout between two undefeated pugilists, Andre Ward and Sergey Kovalev, in Sin City. While it won’t have the hype of the Manny Pacquiao-Floyd Mayweather “Fight of the Century” 18 months ago, it should be the highest grossing fight on pay-per-view this year.
It’s somewhat surprising that President-elect Trump’s days as owner of the New York Generals of the United States Football League in the early 1980s never came up during the recent campaign. The USFL was an attempt to compete with the National Football League by experimenting with the idea of pro football being played in the spring.
Trump was not shy about spending money as he signed former Cleveland Browns QB Brian Sipe and famed running back Herschel Walker straight out of the University of Georgia. In turn, the Generals drew decent crowds to Giants Stadium.
We’ll never know if the idea of spring pro football could have succeeded in the long run because Trump insisted that the USFL compete head to head with the NFL during the fall. Not surprisingly the USFL was history by 1985.
Las Vegas’s biggest trade event, Consumer Electronics Show, will take place the first week of 2017. Last Thursday, the Consumer Technology Association, held a media sneak preview in Manhattan.
Dell Computers showed off its latest laptops for video game players, Alienware 17. These days there is a Smartphone app for everything so it’s not a surprise that watching one’s weight would inspire one.
An app called Lose It! will tell you what you are about to it and its calorie count as soon as you snap a picture. My advice would be never to use it between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Day!
Not everything at the CES preview involved computers, tablets, or smartphones. Ellie is a cannister that utilizes ultraviolet rays to kill germs and bacteria that are commonly found on small objects as toothbrushes and cellular phones.
Technology has long been making its way into children’s toys. Xtreme Cycle RC Moto-Cam is a remote controlled tiny toy motorcycle that has a miniature camera on top of the cyclist figure’s helmet that shoots video that can be posted to social media. Xtreme Cycle was displayed at last month’s TTPM, the semi-annual toy trade show for media.
The personal care industry trade show organizer, Beauty Press, has always had a lot of exhibitors who create a multitude of products for women to no one’s surprise. Men though, particularly Gen Xers and millennials, have become a larger percentage of consumers when it comes to skin care and hair products.
At last week’s Beauty Press event in midtown Manhattan, Parodi, a high- end salon skin care products manufacturer was promoting its lines of skin and foot creams which company CEO Linda Parodi told me were manufactured with guys in mind. A Port St. Lucie, Florida (yes, the spring training home of the Mets) dermatologist, Dr. Gary Marder, has created shampoo and conditioner lines that bear his name and contain hydrocortisone which fights scalp irritation. It’s Dr. Marder’s contention that unclogging scalp follicles leads to thicker hair growth (drmarderskincare.com).
Smoothies are healthier alternative to malteds and milk shakes but a lot of us don’t want to make them from scratch and then have to clean the blender afterwards. A new company, Leap (leapsmothies.com), has created a line of pre-made powdered smoothies in which all you have to do is pour the contents into a plastic bottle and then add either milk, water, or Lifeway kefir, and then manually shake.
Hyatt Hotels recently surveyed a number of leisure and business travelers and asked them how their hotel experience can be improved. Hyatt revealed some of the accepted suggestions to the press last Thursday evening at the Hyatt Regency in Jersey City as the hotel chain kicked off “It’s Good Not To Be Home” campaign.
One of the smart suggestions was for every room to have light exercise equipment such as 3-lb. dumbbells and jump rope as well as a chart of do-it-yourself exercises. This makes a lot of sense because many travelers are tight on time can’t get to the hotel gym. There are a lot of travelers who are intimidated at the thought of going to an unfamiliar gym. It can hurt your self-esteem when the person next to you on the treadmill looks like he or she is trying to make the US Olympic Track & Field team and you are just plodding along.