New York Daily News sportswriter Peter Botte has long been respected by his colleagues because he believes in facts and not writing incendiary columns primarily designed to generate Internet clicks and buzz which is sadly become more common in what passes today for sports journalism. That is why it caught my attention when he wrote an article last Tuesday that more or less called for the dismissal of New York Islanders general manager Garth Snow as well as harshly criticizing the thin-skinned nature of Islanders communications department.
Garth Snow was a backup goaltender for the Islanders before he was hired by then team owner Charles Wang in 2006 to replace Mike Milbury who had held the post since 1995. The fact that Milbury lasted eleven years as the Isles GM during which they generally missed the playoffs, and the rare times when they did make it to the NHL postseason, they were bounced after the first round. Milbury’s civil service-like tenure was a testament to the fact that Wang valued his friendship with him more than he cared about his team winning.
The same criticism can be leveled at Snow who has now been at the job as long as Milbury was. Yes, the Islanders finally made it into the second round of the playoffs last spring for the first time in 23 years, but that was only because they were fortunate enough to have played the mediocre Florida Panthers in the first round who themselves hadn’t made it past the first round since 1996.
This year however the Islanders have reverted to losing form as the team consists of superstar center John Tavares and a bunch of nobodies. Tavares has been with the team for eight years but Snow has yet to find another player who can take the pressure off of him.
The Islanders’ futility has understandably led beat reporters to ask head coach Jack Capuano if he was worried about his job security. Capuano took the questions in stride, but according to Peter Botte, the media was berated by the Islanders communications department for raising the issue to him. I can’t say that I was surprised based on my dealings with them.
Most general managers in the various professional sports generally concern themselves strictly with talent acquisition and development. In the National Hockey League however general managers frequently deal with other areas such as media credentialing policies according to an NHL insider who I greatly trust. A lot of these old school hockey lifers care little about the owner’s revenue streams and ignore the fact that media coverage helps sell tickets and merchandise. They prefer their insular culture. Profits be damned.
New Islanders majority owner, Jon Ledecky, who grew up in Bayside was undoubtedly hoping to hold off making any personnel changes until after this season. He may not have that luxury.
Just to show that I am not trying to pick on the Islanders, their community relations department is stellar. Last Wednesday the team had all of their players visit elementary schools in Suffolk, Nassau, Brooklyn, and they even made a stop in Corona at PS 19. The following day the players skated with visually impaired youngsters at their Eisenhower Park practice facility.
The Mets surprisingly dismissed third base coach Tim Teufel last week. Teufel, was a member of the 1986 Mets, and was considered a popular member of Terry Collins’ coaching staff. He always interacted with fans and when the Mets held their monthly on-field ceremony to honor various employees he would always be out there to shake their hand.
Just about the only debit on Teufel’s record were the number of runners who were thrown out trying to score from second base on a hit last year. In fairness to him, the Mets had such trouble scoring runs via ways other than the home run that he often felt that he had to roll the dice. The Mets were abysmal at getting runners in from third base with less than two out.
Most Mets fans were delighted that second baseman Neil Walker accepted the team’s one-year qualifying offer of $17.2 million. Had Walker rejected it he would have been a free agent.
While his contributions to the Mets last year may have been overlooked because of the MVP-like season that the man he replaced, Daniel Murphy, had with the Washington Nationals, but Neil was a valuable switch-hitter who hit with power and fielded his position a lot better than Murphy ever did.
Neil Walker is a leader in the clubhouse and he always seems to enjoy talking with reporters, whether they be from big or small outlets. Unlike Matt Harvey and countless others in his profession, Neil understands that media coverage generates consumer interest and that helps drive up compensation for players.
Not that free agent slugging outfielder Yoenis Cespedes needs any extra leverage in his contract negotiations with the Mets who are desperately trying to re-sign him but he got some anyway last week when Detroit Tigers pitcher Michael Fulmer was named the American League Rookie of the Year. Mets general manager Sandy Alderson traded Fulmer to the Tigers on July 31, 2015 in order to obtain Cespedes. Coming in second to Fulmer in the voting was Yankees home run-hitting catcher Gary Sanchez.
Both the New York City Football Club and the New York Red Bulls fell a bit short in their quest to win the Major League Soccer championship trophy this year but the New York Cosmos of the North American Soccer League did win it all when they beat the Indianapolis Eleven at St. John’s Belson Stadium a week ago. The Cosmos were led by midfielder David Diosa who grew up in Jackson Heights and graduated from Francis Lewis High School.
The Knicks have been playing a bit better of late having beaten both the Atlanta Hawks and the Dallas Mavericks in the last week. Team president Phil Jackson’s impolitic remarks about LeBron James’ “posse” did not seem to have an adverse effect on the team’s play although Carmelo Anthony made it clear that he did not care for Jackson’s choice of words.
As has long been his wont, Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban, enjoyed chatting with reporters before the Mavs-Knicks game. He was a vociferous critic of Donald Trump during the presidential campaign so it wasn’t shocking that he did not want to discuss the election. When I asked him if anyone from the Democratic National Committee had spoken to him about considering a presidential run of his own in 2020, he quickly replied, “I am not a Democrat!”
Cuban was in the news recently when he refused to credential a pair of ESPN reporters but it wasn’t because he was angry at the reporters. On the contrary, he was livid at ESPN’s Dallas digital platform for not sending their reporters to every Mavericks home game and was worried that other media outlets would try to cut down coverage in order to save money and he wanted to send a message. In short, Cuban was an unlikely defender of sportswriting jobs.
As fans of ABC’s “Shark Tank” are very aware, Mark Cuban is an entrepreneur in many different fields. He owns a low-carb baking company called Alyssa’s Healthy Cookies as well as cable television’s Axs TV among his many other properties. Axs, which broadcasts many concerts, comedy shows, and is the reporting home for veteran newsman Dan Rather, was never picked up by Time Warner Cable, but Cuban is hopeful that now that TWC was taken over by Charter Communications, Axs will get distribution so that Queens residents will get to watch it.
The annual hotel supplier trade show, HX Experience occurred last week at the Javits Center. Among the exhibitors there was Long Island City-based baker, Tom Kat, and Milnor, the industrial laundry equipment manufacturer. Milnor caught my eye because it seems as if every professional sports team uses their washing machines to clean uniforms.
Another yearly trade show, Kosherfest, took place last week at the Meadowlands Expo in Secaucus. Manischewitz previewed products that can be used for matzo Passover pizza. Chilla, an Israeli, organic fruit and vegetable juice, showcased its various lines. As a baby boomer I was happy to see that Fox’s U-bet syrup, a staple for making chocolate egg creams, is attempting a comeback.
The California vintner, Mark West, is promoting how its Pinot Noir is a perfect accompaniment for turkey dinners. Red wine does have cardiac health benefits. Of course given the amount of tryptophan in turkey which leads to drowsiness I would be careful about driving home after your meal.
Michelin debuted its 2017 New York restaurant guide last Thursday night. While Manhattan and Brooklyn still dominate its pages, its Queens chapter was the largest that it has ever been.
Fans of the late pop culture painter Andy Warhol should check out the “Letters to Andy Warhol” exhibit at Tribeca’s Cadillac House. Among the many exhibits is correspondence between the Rolling Stones and Warhol about his designing the cover to their 1971 album, “Sticky Fingers,” which featured both “Brown Sugar” and “Wild Horses.” The admission is free.
Fans of top-notch satire should check out Pop TV’s new spoof of late night television shows, “Nightcap,” which stars the always welcome comedy actress Ali Wentworth (her husband is ABC News personality George Stephanopolous) and New York theater actor, Karl Gregory, who reminds me of both Alan Cumming and TV comedy actor and Forest Hills native Billy Eichner. “Nightcap” airs Wednesday nights at 8 PM on Pop TV.