For the first time in Citi Field history, it hosted Major League Baseball games in which the Mets were participants. Come to think of it, that never happened in the 44-year history of the Mets’ previous Queens home, Shea Stadium.
Hurricane Irma forced the Tampa Bays Rays to move their scheduled three-game series last week from the Tropicana Dome in St. Petersburg, FL to elsewhere. Major League Baseball asked the Mets to pitch in and donate Citi Field and the team agreed. The thinking was that playing the games at Yankee Stadium would disadvantage the Rays even further than just losing their home fans and playing before Bronx Bombers fans who would certainly descend upon Flushing.
Although they would have preferred not to have made a detour to Queens, the Rays players were impressed with the ballpark and especially the Mets’ players clubhouse which they utilized. Rays pitcher Jake Faria admitted that the spacious and modern facilities were superior to that of their home ballpark.
The relocation of the Yankees-Rays series created an unplanned homecoming for former Mets first baseman Lucas Duda who appreciated that the Mets clubhouse staff gave him his old real estate by providing him with the locker in the rear corner.
I chatted with Lucas in the home dugout during batting practice prior to last Monday’s game which the Yankees won 5-1. Duda came up through the Mets’ farm system and it was the only professional baseball organization that he was familiar with until he was traded to Tampa Bay in late July.
He expressed absolutely no bitterness at Mets general manager Sandy Alderson’s decision to move him. “I completely understand the business side of the game and I don’t mind it.” Duda then graciously added that he thinks his successor at first base, Dominic Smith, will be a terrific player and that young players as Michael Conforto, Brandon Nimmo, Amed Rosario, and the aforementioned Smith, comprise a special group.
Duda agreed with my assessment that he didn’t receive the appreciation from fans and management for working hard at improving his defensive play at first base during his Mets tenure. “I know that I wasn’t Keith Hernandez out there but I worked hard to become respectable,” he said with a smile.
Tampa Bay Rays managing general partner Stuart Sternberg grew up in Canarsie and graduated with a degree in finance from St. John’s University so it’s not surprising that he grew up a Mets fan. He still makes his home in the New York area.
I joked with Sternberg that given the way that their favorite team’s season has gone, as further evidenced by their three embarrassing blowout losses to the Cubs last week, Mets fans may insist on the Rays playing all of their home games at Citi Field. “That would be fine with me!” he said with a hearty laugh.
The Breeders’ Cup is thoroughbred racing’s biggest fall event and it will be held November 3 & 4 at arguably the nation’s most beautiful track, Del Mar, located just north of San Diego. I recommend staying at the Hyatt Regency La Jolla which is only a ten-minute ride north on Interstate 5. The Hyatt has a heated Olympic-size pool. Ironically the heating is not necessary because it is normally quite warm in San Diego in early November. JetBlue has twice-a-day service between JFK and San Diego.
Horse racing fans who want to see an excellent stakes race that is a little closer to home should head to Parx (the old Philadelphia Park) in Bensalem, Pennsylvania, the Bucks County town that is just across the Philadelphia city line, this Saturday to watch the running of the Pennsylvania Derby. Irish War Cry, who won the Wood Memorial at Aqueduct back in April is one the horses that is slated to run. Admission is free to the track.
Mets outfielder Travis Taijeron grew up just east of San Diego and he suggests that New Yorkers take in some of the Pacific Mexican beaches while in Southern California. “Tijuana International Airport is just across the border. You can park your car in a lot on the American side and then walk over to the airport. Flights to Puerto Vallarta and Cabo San Lucas are dirt cheap!” he told me during the last Mets homestand.
The Knicks made a smart acquisition by signing veteran free agent point guard Jarrett Jack who has always shown intelligence on the court. Jack knows how to spot the open man on the court and he is also adept at hitting three-point shots.
“American Ninja Warrior” has been a surprise summer Monday night hit for NBC as it tests an athlete’s strength, agility, and decision-making powers. One of the more popular participants has been Lance Pekus, better known to viewers as the Cowboy Ninja.
Pekus is a real-life rancher and he was able to simulate the obstacle course used on the show by arranging bales of hay and jumping to and off of them.
One of the most important computing skills children need to learn is coding. At last week’s Kids & Family Tech Expo media event, a number of toy and game manufacturers, ranging from startups as Little Robot Friends to well-known corporate behemoths as Lego are creating toys whose mission is to teach this key skill. Lego’s Guitar 4000 allows kids of all ages to build a miniature instrument that plays chords and notes.
Clothing styles have long been just a small part of New York Fashion Week. GBK Suites is a trade show where a variety of consumer goods producers gather to show off their latest products. The Long Island vitamin manufacturer, Nature’s Bounty, introduced a line of gummies that purport to help improve skin, hair, and nails. In a similar vein, All Beauty Water displayed its latest flavored waters that contain electrolytes and antioxidants which also aid general health. On a slightly more decadent note, a Long Island City chocolatier, Milene Jardine, showed off its newest confections.