The New York Islanders gave their fans unexpected cause for optimism in the first two months of the season as they got off to a hot start. The fact that their chief rivals, the New York Rangers, began the 2017-18 season disastrously compiling one loss after another, made the Islanders’ early success very noticeable.
Ironically it seems that ever since Governor Cuomo announced that he was giving the Islanders ownership and their real estate developers land at Belmont Park to create a new arena the Isles have gone into a deep funk while the Rangers have reversed course and are playing like the Stanley Cup contenders they were expected to be.
Their troubles were encapsulated in back-to-back games last Thursday and Friday nights.
The Islanders traveled down the NJ Turnpike to Philadelphia where they played the Flyers, the worst team in the NHL’s Metropolitan Division. The good news was that their offense was in high gear as they scored four goals. The bad news was that their defense and goaltending was so porous that the Flyers scored six. Their biggest sin however was committing numerous dumb penalties at the worst possible times to basically hand the Flyers the game.
The following night the Islanders returned to Barclays Center and lost 4-0 to the two-time defending Stanley Cup champions, the Pittsburgh Penguins. That by itself is no disgrace but not being able to score when they had a rare 5 on 3 man advantage in the final minutes of the second period was completely inexcusable.
Kudos have to be given to the Islanders however for sponsoring Mental Health Awareness Night to coincide with the Penguins game. Mental health should always be treated the same way as any other form of physical well-being but there is still a stigma to it.
Most sports books are understandably written by, or about, famous athletes. It was therefore refreshing to read a baseball autobiography from someone who is far from a household name, Tom Gamboa. He has penned “My Life In Baseball” (McFarland Publishing) along with co-writer and Forest Hills native David Russell.
Gamboa is best remembered for being the Kansas City Royals first base coach who was a victim of a senseless attack by an inebriated father-ands-son tandem during a game with the Chicago White Sox at Comiskey Park.
While Gamboa and Russell dedicate the obligatory two chapters to the incident they don’t let it overshadow the rest of the book which is a fascinating look at a baseball professional who has spent as most of his life beating the bushes of baseball’s minor leagues.
The book ends on an upbeat note as Gamboa recalls his stint as manager of the Mets’ NY-Penn League affiliate, the Brooklyn Cyclones, and his final job before retirement, serving as a coach for Team Israel in the 2016 World Baseball Classic.
If you are looking for an hour where you can laugh with very few breaks, check out Fox’s Tuesday 9-10 PM slot.
Fox recently debuted “LA to Vegas” which looks at life at a low-budget airline that shuttles Los Angelenos to Las Vegas on Friday nights and gets them back home on Sundays. Dylan McDermott, who has been in many failed action series, seems very much at ease playing the vain and self-absorbed pilot, Captain Dave, while Kim Matula plays Ronnie, the frazzled flight attendant, Ronnie, who dreams of working for a legitimate international carrier that flies in and out of JFK. Will Ferrell, Adam McKay, and Chris Henchy, the folks behind those Funny or Die comedy skits on the Internet, are the showrunners.
Fox’s programming executives have smartly paired “LA to Vegas” with the return of “The Mick,” a comedy that pushes the envelope when it comes to network standards and practices with its ribald humor. Kaitlin Olson is “Mick,” a hustler who never stops seeking an easy way to make a buck, but who is suddenly forced to grow up when she has to raise the snotty kids of her sister and brother-in-law who flee the country after they are caught fleecing funds in a Bernie Madoff-like embezzlement. “The Mick” is a great satire of life in tony Greenwich, CT.
ABC last week cancelled “The Mayor” which starred Brandon Hall as a rapper who runs for mayor of a Northern California city as a promotional stunt for his musical career and then has to serve when he shockingly wins the race. Hall is a very likable performer and the scripts were well-written. I am sorry that this show never found its audience.