The Week That Was: Spring Has Sprung In Baseball

I have to admit that this is the time of the year when I envy sportswriters from the dailies who get to
cover the Mets and the Yankees in February and March. Most New Yorkers would love to spend time
in Florida during February and March.

Even better for the sportswriters is that they don’t really have to dig too deeply for stories and most
of the ones that they produce are optimistic puff pieces. Players talk about how they have either
recovered from that nagging injury last year and that they are in the best physical shape of their lives; or
that they have discovered that magic pitch or batting stance that will make of the difference in the

Another fixture of spring training articles are optimistic predictions. Newly acquired Mets relief
pitcher Anthony Swarzak promised that the Mets would be playing in the World Series this fall while his
Yankees counterpart, Dellin Betances, said that the season would be a major disappointment if his team
doesn’t win the World Series. I think that it’s safe to say at this point that Betances’s comments have
more credibility.

One break for New York baseball writers looking for fresh material is that both the Mets and the
Yankees have new managers, Mickey Callaway and Aaron Boone respectively. Both gentlemen have
upbeat personalities and they enjoy schmoozing with the media.

Mets beat writers have had it a bit easier than their colleagues who have covered the Yankees in the
recent past because ex-Mets manager Terry Collins gave them a lot of access and colorful quotes. The
same however could not be said for recently deposed Bronx Bombers manager Joe Girardi who would
only talk with the media during his regularly scheduled press conferences. Even during those he had a
tendency to be quite guarded although he was always cordial.

Yankees beat writers certainly have the marquee story this spring as one of the most prodigious
home run hitters of the 21st century, Giancarlo Stanton, was traded to the Yankees from the cash-
strapped Miami Marlins during this off-season. Stanton has a reputation of being reticent with the press
but a key part of the Yankees’ culture is that their players always behave professionally with both fans
and the media. Stanton would be wise to observe how last year’s big Bronx story, Aaron Judge,
effortlessly handled that part of his job.

It did not get a lot of coverage but the ATP, the men’s professional tennis tour, made a stop in our
area last week as the first-ever New York Open indoor tennis championship was held at the Nassau

It was a homecoming for Merrick’s Noah Rubin whose dad is from Bayside and is considered an up
and comer on the men’s tour. He drew a tough assignment however as he faced 2014 US Open finalist
Kei Nishikori and lost in straight sets.

The NBA All-Star Game break could not have come at a more welcome time for both the Nets and the Knicks.
The Nets had lost seven straight games and seemed to be waiting forever to get their 20th win of the season.
The Knicks are struggling just as mightily as was evidenced by arguably their most painful loss of the season last Wednesday night as they blew a 27-point last first half lead and wound up losing to the Washington Wizards 118-113. Tim Hardaway.Jr. scored 32 points in the first half but was held to a measly 5 in the second half. In fairness, the Wizards double-teamed him. It should also be noted that the Wizards were playing without their best player, John Wall.

The Valentine’s Day loss marked the 50th anniversary of the current incarnation of Madison Square Garden at 33rd Street between 7th and 8th Avenues. There was surprisingly little fanfare in advance of this milestone. Maybe Garden officials had an inkling of how the Knicks game would go.

The Mets learned the hard way last season that the old baseball adage about never having enough pitching was painfully true. One of the reasons that they wound up with a 70-92 record was that too many games were started by subpar major league pitchers as Chris Flexen and Tommy Milone when injuries decimated their pitching staff.
Mets general manager Sandy Alderson has taken out an insurance policy by signing free agent pitcher Jason Vargas to a two-year deal. Vargas won’t make Mets fans forget about Noah Syndergaard or Jacob deGrom but he is a vast improvement over Flexen and Milone. Incidentally, Vargas pitched briefly for the Mets in 2007.

New York Fashion Week has long been more than designers showing off their latest creations with unhealthily skinny models walking them down a runway. The week has also become a time for consumer brands from all facets to promote themselves.

At Illumination’s Celebrity Gifting Lounge Marin Bee displayed their wide array of skincare products; Skin Spa provided 15-minute massages as a way of getting known in the very competitive spa and salon industry; and the Moon Palace Cancun was enticing celebrities with a comp stay at their all-inclusive property. And yes, there was even a clothing company there as Boo Hoo, a women’s fashion company was debuting its line for guys, Boo Hoo Man.
At the Style Tech Lounge, Beau Brummell, a men’s shaving products company was providing gratis grooming services while Bai was giving out samples of its latest low-calorie beverages.

The Athena Film Festival, which showcases shorts, documentaries, and feature films made by female directors runs from this Thursday to Sunday at Barnard College.

Athena will open with a screening of “Battle of the Sexes” which did not have the box office success that it should have when it hit theaters last fall. Billie Jean King will chat before the screening about her eventful match with Bobby Riggs that took place at the Astrodome in Houston on September 20, 1973.

Even if you are not keeping up with the exercise regimen that you promised yourself at the start of the new year you can still improve your cardiac health by switching from butter to olive oil which many physicians, including Dr. Oz, believe reduces bad cholesterol and increases good cholesterol. Colavita Extra Virgin Olive Oil has long been the leading brand.

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