We are going to learn soon enough whether New York Islanders managing partner Jon Ledecky, who grew up in Bayside and completed his first year of being in charge, is serious about improving this long-running joke of a sports franchise. As a fellow Queens guy I feel that it’s incumbent upon me to provide some advice.
The first order of business is to fire inept general manager Garth Snow who has been on the job for a woeful 11 years. Under Snow’s stewardship the Islanders have more often than not missed the playoffs and this past season was no exception in spite of the fine coaching job done by interim head coach Doug Weight who succeeded longtime head coach Jack Capuano in mid-January.
Even on those rare occasions when the Islanders qualified for the NHL postseason it was generally a cameo appearance as they were bounced in the first round. In 2016 they lasted until Round 2 because they were fortunate to face the Florida Panthers, who are even more of a dysfunctional hockey franchise, as difficult as that is to believe, in the opening round.
Doug Weight has always been a competent hockey professional which makes him somewhat of an outlier in the Islanders corporate culture. Last week he was rightfully named the Islanders permanent head coach My suggestion, Jon, is to let Weight run the day-to-day operations as general manager and then let him hire a new head coach.
Another area where you need to act fast, Jon, is in the area of media relations. I won’t belabor you with my war stories over the years with your team’s PR department but Jon you have to wonder about the lack of coverage that the Islanders receive.
When I was in Philadelphia two weeks ago to cover one of the most important games of the Isles’ season the only New York-based sportswriter in attendance at the Wells Fargo Center besides myself was the beat reporter from Newsday. That never happens to the Rangers.
Forget road games, Jon. The Daily News doesn’t even bother to send a cub reporter to your team’s home games at Barclays Center. The Post and the Times occasionally send someone out if it’s a slow day in sports and the Rangers happen to be out of town.
Nobody knows where your team’s future home will be since the management of Barclays Center made public last year that they would prefer that the Islanders not be their tenant.
There are already too many arenas in the metropolitan area. Politicians support winning franchises and not perennial losers who get scant attention from the press and don’t seem interested in expanding their customer base. In short, Jon, don’t expect any help from them with respect to a new building.
I hope that I’ve helped, Jon. Good luck. You’re gonna need it.
Any Mets fan who made the trip down to Philadelphia last week was rewarded as the Mets swept the three-game series from the Phillies. The standout game was last Tuesday night when the Mets hit seven homers with three of them being supplied by Yoenis Cespedes in a 14-4 drubbing of the Phils.
The downside of the Mets being homer happy is that it leads it preponderance of strikeouts and a failure to move runners around the bases. Mets general manager Sandy Alderson is fond of repeating the humorous baseball axiom, “Chicks dig the long ball!” Yes, but World Series champions know how to get a runner in from third base with less than two out.
Mets manager Terry Collins made a humorous quip in Philadelphia about wanting to send out the FBI to find the real Jose Reyes. Granted, Collins was a bit frustrated for Jose’s minuscule batting average but he knows that it’s a long season and one shouldn’t panic over a bad short stretch particularly in early April.
The same advice about patience should be extended to Yankees fans with respect to young first baseman Greg Bird whose batting average was lower than that of most pitchers in the first two weeks of the season. Bird missed all of last year recovering from surgery to repair torn muscles in his right shoulder so some rust has to be expected.
The Mets will get a boost Thursday when Jeurys Familia returns to the team after completing his 15-game suspension for his involvement in a domestic dispute last fall.
Someone is going to have to explain to me why the Mets always seem to come up a day late and a dollar short against the Miami Marlins.
Mets outfielder Jay Bruce grew up in Beaumont, Texas and is well aware of the music celebrities who came from his hometown. When I mentioned that JP Richardson, better known as the Big Bopper of “Chantilly Lace” fame and who died in the plane crash that also took the lives of Buddy Holly and Ritchie Valens, hailed from Beaumont, Bruce quickly replied, “Don’t forget about Janis Joplin.”
Major League Baseball surprisingly did not put a lot of promotion into the 70th anniversary of Jackie Robinson’s debut that finally integrated the national pastime. My guess is that they kept it low-key because they will want to make a big celebration in five years.
Last year baseball historian and author Danny Peary wrote a book, “Jackie Robinson In Quotes” (Page Street Books), that is a literal oral history of his life as it captures the thoughts of many who came into contact with Jackie. It’s certainly worth picking up.
Portland Trailblazers small forward Moe Harkless made his old Forest Hills High School math teachers proud. He had a stipulation in his contract that would reward him a $500,000 bonus if he hit 35% of his three-point shot attempts.
With one week to go in the season Moe discovered that he was a shade above that percentage and that if he took a long shot and missed it he would forfeit the money. He wound up only taking short-range jump shots the rest of the season. When a reporter asked him about if he thought about hoisting up a three-point shot if the situation called for it, he coolly answered, “Would you?”
The WNBA will be celebrating its 20th anniversary this season and they kicked things off by holding their draft of college players last Thursday at an event space in the Meatpacking District.
University of Washington guard Kelsey Plum, who holds the NCAA women’s record for scoring was the first pick as she was selected by the San Antonio Silver Stars. I asked her if she was going to do what most WNBA players do and play in Europe during the fall and winter. “Of course! I want to make money!” she replied. When I followed up by asking her if WNBA player compensation was too low, she quickly retreated and said no.
A second-year WNBA player who attended the draft and requested anonymity thanked me however for asking that question to Plum. She made it clear to me that most WNBA players would prefer to stay in the USA but the WNBA’s business model forces them to work overseas.
There is a lot of fun things to do at this year’s New York International Auto Show which finishes up on Sunday.
Chevrolet, which has long been a sponsor of Major League Baseball, has teamed up with Topps to allow visitors to create their own baseball card. Speaking of Chevrolet, you can sit in the driver’ seat of its famous sports car, the Corvette, but if you are tall, or not as agile as you used to be, it is a pain to get yourself both in and out of it.
General Motors’ legendary luxury car brand, Cadillac, which has always been thought of as the car of choice of wealthy seniors, is trying to redefine itself with its sporty sedan, the CTS. As a further way to project a more youthful image, Cadillac displayed its Formula 1 car which won the Sports Car Grand Prix race that took place in Long Beach, California two weeks ago just before the Long Beach Grand Prix, arguably America’s third most famous motor sports race behind the Indy 500 and the Daytona 500, was run.
As per custom, Toyota displayed a Yankees-themed car but at least this year they aren’t playing favorites as there is also a blue-and-orange car with a Mets logo.
The Tribeca Film Festival runs from now until April 30. A documentary simply titled “Mike and the Mad Dog,” looks back at the nearly 19-year run of WFAN’s afternoon drivetime duo as well as the lives of both Mike Francesa and Christopher “Mad Dog” Russo both before and after their partnership which ran from 1989-2008. Mike and Chris are arguably the most famous duo in New York radio history. This documentary will eventually be shown on ESPN as part of its “30 for 30″ film series.
Two other documentaries that were getting buzz even before their first screening.
“Get Me Roger Stone,” which looks at the life of the longtime Republican operative who is renown for taking the axiom “All’s fair in love and war” to the limit when it comes to political contests. Stone has been a longtime associate of President Trump so you know that the 2016 election will get a lot of attention here.
“Clive Davis: The Soundtrack of Our Lives” details the life of the most famous record company executive in history and some wags might add most overpraised as well.
The Tribeca Film Festival is stealing some thunder from the New York Television Festival by showing world debuts and season premiers of select shows from Hulu, Netflix, HBO, Showtime, Spike, USA Network, Seeso, CNN and PBS as well as showcasing independently made pilots from aspiring television showrunners who are hoping to catch the eye of a TV network programming exec.
On the topic of television, next month the various broadcast networks will be holding their annual Upfront presentations in which they reveal their new programs to advertisers and the media.
CBS, the most watched network in the US, is expected to launch a prequel to its highly successful “The Big Bang Theory” when it is expected to introduce “Young Sheldon.”
Pop TV, CBS-owned cable network that is competing with NBC’s E! and Bravo, has quietly become a home for intriguing comedies as evidenced by “Schitt’s Creek” that stars Eugene Levy; “Nightcap,” the terrific satire of late night talk shows that has the always welcome Ali Wentworth as a frazzled producer; and “Return of the Mac” which is a fictitious look at the daily life of Joey McIntryre of New Kids On The Block fame. Last week Pop TV executives announced that film star Keanu Reeves will star in a detective comedy called “Swedish Dicks” this fall.
Saturday marks the 47th anniversary of the first Earth Day which celebrates ecology. Granted, the occasion probably won’t be as joyous given how the current administration has tried to gut the Environmental Protection Agency. It should be noted that the EPA was started during President Nixon’s administration and its first secretary was Alaska governor Wally Hickel and both were Republicans.
As consumers became more ecologically aware, many companies started producing “green products” which claimed to be environmentally friendly. The marketplace wasn’t kind to a lot of them as either they were too pricy or their performance was lacking. Good luck finding any “green batteries” these days.
One company that has stood the test of time is Earth Friendly Products which just celebrated its 50th anniversary last week. Its Ecos line of detergents, soaps, and all-purpose cleaners does not use harsh chemicals but rather extracts from various fruits and vegetables. Earth Friendly Products’ success has spawned worthy competitors such as Seventh Generation and Lemi Shine.
The semi-annual Spa Week is taking place in New York this week as a number of ritzy spas are offering various treatments at discount prices. For more information log onto spaweek.com