The Week That Was: Ces Puts The Mets In a Mess

     Astoria native Tony Bennett may have left his heart in San Francisco but apparently Mets outfielder Yoenis Cespedes deposited his on the less glamorous east side of SF Bay. Cespedes created a stir when he told San Francisco Chronicle sportswriter Susan Slusser that he would love to finish his playing career with the Oakland Athletics prior to the start of the Mets’ three-game weekend series with the A’s.

     My first reaction was that Cespedes was being both polite and nostalgic for his first big league team. He represented the A’s at the 2013 All-Star Game played at Citi Field and won the Home Run Derby the previous night. We always have feelings for our first love.

     The reality is that the “Moneyball” Athletics can’t afford Cespedes. The average annual salary of his current contract is approximately $27 million which is roughly one-third of the entire A’s payroll. Yoenis is probably sending a message down the line that when he reaches the end of the line and is no longer in demand, as what happened to Phillies legends Ryan Howard and Jimmy Rollins, he will gladly take the MLB minimum salary from the A’s.

     Cespedes crossed a line however when he said that A’s manager Bob Melvin was his favorite big league skipper. I have a feeling that Terry Collins, whose status as Mets manager going into next season is very much up in the air, couldn’t have been very happy.

      July has been an exciting month for Mets outfielder Michael Conforto.

      Two weeks ago he represented that Mets at the All-Star Game in Miami where he collected a hit and made a nice catch. He was bummed however that the National League lost the game because that meant that he missed out on getting the $20,000 that players on the winning team received while the losing team’s players got zip. “I was thinking about that after the game,” he admitted.

     Michael is from Seattle so you had better believe that he had this weekend, where the Mets travel up to the Pacific Northwest to play three games with the Mariners, circled on his calendar as soon the 2017 Mets schedule was released. I expect him to get a great reception from the sophisticated Seattle fan base even though he’s playing for the opposition. 

     Conforto’s outfielder teammate, Brandon Nimmo, suffered a collapsed lung just before the All-Star Game break. It wasn’t a baseball-related injury but rather it emanated from a congenital condition.

      Brandon did not suffering any breathing issues as he only lost 20% of lung function. He told me that he knew something was wrong when he felt back pain after doing low exertion activities such as walking a few blocks.

     This is a reminder that back discomfort is a frequent indicator of serious health issues that have nothing to do with sore dorsal muscles.

     Showtime will  a pretty good bout on Saturday night as Adrien Broner takes on Mikey Garcia in a 12-round lightweight fight at Barclays Center. There are no titles on the line but so what?

     Adrien Broner is a good boxer but he is even a better standup comic. There is no other fighter, Floyd Mayweather included, whose press conferences I enjoy attending more than one where the witty Broner holds court. If he loses to Garcia, which is a real possibility, I’d love to see him leave the ring and devote full-time to the entertainment industry.

     Panasonic has signed a deal with the Bronx Bombers to become the official shaver of the Yankees. It’s great exposure for Panasonic since the Yankees are legendary for frowning upon facial hair.

     I’m surprised that Gillette did not beat Panasonic to the punch with the Yankees given Gillette’s long history with Major League Baseball. Baby boomers will remember that Gillette was the first sponsor of fan voting for the All-Star Game when it was reinstated for the public in 1969.

    Panasonic concentrates of electric razors while Gillette has remained in the manual/disposable razor market with its popular Fusion, Mach 3 Turbo, and Sensor 3 razors which give a close shave without the facial skin irritation that comes from lesser shavers. I have to admit that when it comes to electric shavers I have always been a Philips Norelco Tripleheader enthusiast.

     Summer used to be a very sleepy time for television programming. Cable network executives have taken advantage that lull in recent years to attract viewers with fresh and interesting programming and this summer is no exception.

      This Sunday night (July 30) the Smithsonian Channel will be debuting “Lost Tapes: Son of Sam” to commemorate the 40 th anniversary of his capture after a year-long random killing spree in New York neighborhoods with most of his attacks occurring in Queens.

     “Lost Tapes” does not use any narration but rather pieces together headlines from New York tabloids and clips from local television newscasts from 1977. New Yorkers over a certain age will enjoy seeing such terrific reporters as Bill Littauer, Jeff Kamen, and Chris Borgen from back in the day, and who unfortunately have been forgotten with the passage of time, reporting on the story that had everyone in this city at the time on edge.

     At the press screening in Tribeca for “Lost Tapes: Son of Sam,” Bill Clark, a retired NYPD defective, who was assigned to the Son of Sam task force back in ‘77 and interviewed David Berkowitz (the Son of Sam murderer) within 24 hours of his arrest, said that there were a lot of stories that were promulgated in the press that in fact had no truth to them. The notion that Berkowitz was looking for a certain type of victim such as women with long black hair was false. The sketch that appeared in newspapers when the Son of Sam was a mystery turned out to have no resemblance to Berkowitz.

    The good news is that in the post 9/11 world in which we live it seems that everyone has a camera and there is surveillance everywhere. It would be almost impossible to have an urban serial killer a la Son of Sam in this day and age, according to Clark.   

    When I asked Clark how it was possible for Berkowitz to travel to Brooklyn and Queens from the Bronx by car from Yonkers, find a parking space, commit his heinous deeds, and get away for a year, Clark replied that there were a million less people and two million less cars 40 years ago.


     Geraldo Rivera, who was on the panel from Carson City, Nevada where he was reporting on the O.J. Simpson parole hearing, added “Don’t forget that there wasn’t the constant construction you see today on New York bridges and highways.”

     New York was still a tough town to find parking even 40 years ago. The key break in capturing Berkowitz was when he received a parking summons for parking too close to a fire hydrant in Brooklyn before his last attack.

     David Berkowitz isn’t the only mass murderer to be remembered by TV networks this summer. Discovery Network is having an eight-part dramatization called “Manhunt: Unabomber” on the FBI search for Ted Kaczynski who was arrested 20 years ago after a series of mail package bombings across the country.

     While Discovery’s ID network has made its bones with crime re-enactment shows that use little known actors portraying assailants and victims, the Discovery flagship network is employing big name talent as Chris Noth, Sam Worthington, and Paul Bettany for this Emmy/Peabody Award-worthy project.

    The acting and script are first rate but I do have some criticisms. The action is constantly jumping between 1995 when the FBI Task Force brings in profiler Jim Fitzgerald (Sam Worthington) to join it and 1997 after Kaczynski (Paul Bettany) is apprehended and that makes it harder to follow along. Sam Worthington, who was born in England but grew up in Australia, is asked to portray Fitzgerald, a former Philadelphia police officer who wears a Flyers t-shirt around his home. Unfortunately Worthington’s accent just doesn’t ring true of anyone that I have ever known from the City of Brotherly Love or its suburbs.

    Discovery ID is getting competition in crime recreation programming from NBC Universal’s Oxygen which has rebranded itself away from being second-tier reality programming aimed at women to procedurals. Its “Snapped,” which looks at couples where one spouse offs another, has become a big weekend hit.

    Getting away from the crime beat, Bravo, which is best known for fluff such as its “Real Housewife” franchises and “Watch What Happens Live!” starring the irrepressible Andy Cohen, turns a bit more serious with its new Tuesday night offering “A Night With My Ex.” The premise of the show is that a former couple get to spend 24 hours in a hotel suite to hash out what ended their relationship and decide whether they can give things a second try.

    Similar to the “Lost Tapes” there’s no moderator, just pure cinema verite. While it wasn’t easy to watch the debut episode, it was fascinating televison. 

     Bravo had a humorous promotion in Manhattan’s Flatiron District for “A Night With My Ex” as the network displayed items from LA’s “Museum of Broken Relationships” (yes, there really is such a place!) while a DJ played such break-up themed songs as Marvin Gaye’s “I Heard It Through The Grapevine” and Johnnie Taylor’s “Who’s Making Love?” among many others.

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