The Week That Was: Mr. Metgate Dominates At Citi Field

      Mr. Met is baseball’s longest-running mascot and he’s a beloved intangible asset for the team. Kids of all ages have long flocked to the gentle, big baseball-headed character. It’s fair to state that he’s  baseball’s equivalent of Mickey Mouse and Barney the Dinosaur.

      Thus it wasn’t much of a surprise that the media jumped all over the story of a photo snapped of Mr. Met flipping a finger to a fan following the Mets 7-1 loss to the Milwaukee Brewers Wednesday night. If this had been the edgy Phillie Phanatic, who’s renown for getting under the skin of the Phillies’ opponents, it probably would not have gotten anywhere near the notoriety that Bad Mr. Met did.

     Frankly, I am surprised that this story did not happen sooner. I have heard that there have been more than a few times that Disney characters have gone rogue at the company’s theme parks but Disney officials have been quick to mollify anyone who has made a complaint.

     Mets infielder, TJ Rivera, who grew up in the Bronx, told me that most of the players found the incident amusing. Bad Mr. Met did the players a huge favor by detracting from a dreary loss on a night when pitcher Jacob DeGrom was awful.

     Of course it can be argued that Bad Mr. Met was expressing the pent-up frustrations of Mets fans who have witnessed a team that has once again been jinxed by injuries and to use the words of the team’s general manager, Sandy Alderson, has badly underperformed the first third of this season.

     The Mets’ radio broadcast team of Howie Rose and Josh Lewin had some fun with the brouhaha the next day. Rose gingerly pointed out that different people populate the costume of Mr. Met while Lewin feigned incredulity to learn from Rose that Mr. Met was not a real live person.

     The weirdness continued for the Mets the very next game which was a Thursday matinee. Brewers infielder Eric Sogard lifted what looked like a harmless foul ball in the direction of third base. The ballboy, tried to get out of Wilmer Flores’s way but wound up colliding into him. Flores dropped the ball and Sogard was allowed to continue his at-bat. After the game which the Mets lost 2-1, Flores, ever the gentleman, absolved the unnamed ballboy from blame and even took the time to speak with him.

      The late Mets public relations executive and St. John’s University alum, Shannon Forde, who lost her fight with breast cancer in March 2016, was honored in her hometown of Little Falls, NJ last Friday as a refurbished baseball field was named in her honor. Among those who attended the field dedication were Mets captain David Wright, Mets legend John Franco, former manager Willie Randolph, and former general manager and Newtown High alum Omar Minaya.

     Ultimate Fighting Championship CEO Dana White and his mixed martial arts star Chris Weidman who hails from Baldwin took batting practice before Wednesday’s Brewers-Mets game at Citi Field. They were promoting the UFC card that will be taking place July 22 at the Nassau Coliseum.

     I asked legendary Milwaukee Brewers broadcaster Bob Uecker, who starred in the 1980s ABC sitcom, “Mr. Belvedere,” if he was interested in reviving the series now that his old network is bringing back “Roseanne.”  “There’s no way that is going to happen. I can’t believe that it’s still shown in reruns. I get a $2 residual check every month!” he replied. He then laughed when I told him that I would have to break the disappointing news to ABC Entertainment president Channing Dungey.

     The annual Belmont Stakes will take place this Saturday and as is the case whenever there isn’t a possibility of a Triple Crown, the advanced buzz is minimal. The New York Racing Association is smartly adding name entertainment this weekend with singer Andy Grammar and the popular Billy Joel tribute band, Big Shot.

     In spite of its beauty, Belmont Park is woefully underutilized because of the diminished interest in thoroughbred racing. NYRA should take a page from its 1980s marketing playbook and have more concerts by national artists in order to draw crowds.

     Whitestone native and Bayside High alum Mike Tirico will be the play-by–play voice when NBC broadcasts its “Thursday Night Football” package of NFL games.

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