Anyone who has ever seen the film “Bull Durham,” which is celebrating its 30th anniversary this summer, will recall the scene where Kevin Costner’s character, Crash Davis, recites time-honored baseball cliches with the top one being, “You play one game at a time.”
The latest installment of the Subway Series begins Friday night at Citi Field but Mets players were ignoring the axiom about not looking ahead when I spoke to some of them last Friday afternoon before their game with the Cubs. In fact, they did not hide their excitement.
“The atmosphere is exactly like a playoff game,” according to Mets outfielder Michael Conforto who has played in the 2017 All-Star Game and in the 2015 World Series.
Conforto’s neighbor in both the outfield and the clubhouse is Brandon Nimmo who been one of the few bright spots for the team this season. Nimmo proved last season that he is a tough out for opposing pitchers but this year he is also showing unexpected home run power.
Nimmo has become a fan favorite not just because of his on-field production but also for his unfailingly sunny disposition. “Who wouldn’t be excited to play against a very good team that plays in our city?” he replied with his typically broad smile.
Mets closer Jeurys Familia, like every other Mets relief pitcher this season, has struggled mightily but his have really stood out because he is the team’s closer. Familia concurred with my assessment that a good series with the Yankees could atone for a lot of sins and hopefully jump start his team. He also acknowledged that blown saves against the Yankees would be very demoralizing to the fan base and could be a harbinger of a very rough rest of the 2018 season.
First baseman Adrian Gonzalez played a number of years for Southern California’s two National League teams, the San Diego Padres and Los Angeles Dodgers. I asked him if he looked forward to gaimes against the Angels who were the American League rival to both of those clubs. “You definitely feed off of the energy of the fans in those games. On a personal level, I enjoyed playing the Angels in Anaheim because even though it was a road game I got to sleep in my own bed afterwards.”
Injuries have once again been a key reason for the Mets underperforming. The Mets entered the Cubs series missing such lineups mainstays as Wilmer Flores, Todd Frazier, and their big bopper, Yoenis Cespedes. Mets manager Mickey Callaway said at his Friday pregame press conference that he expects them all to return to action very shortly. When I pressed him about if they’d be back in time to face the Yankees, he hedged a bit saying that he expected at least one to be in the lineup.
The Mets have hired Marysol Castro and Colin Cosell (Howard’s grandson) to split the public address announcer duties. Marysol sounds exactly like San Francisco Giants public address announcer Renel Brooks-Moon.
The attention of the sports world will be on Belmont Park Saturday when Justify will try to become a Triple Crown winner after crossing the line first in the Kentucky Derby and Preakness Stakes.
The Belmont Stakes is the most grueling of the three races because it is one and a half miles so endurance and strategy are keys. Jockey Mike Smith had to prod Justify quite a bit down the stretch in Baltimore three weeks ago to get the victory. Justify will have to show more stamina on Saturday if he is to achieve immortality.
Pro volleyball returns to the Big Apple as the New York City Open gets underway on Friday at Pier 25 in Tribeca’s Hudson River Park. Among the notable players taking part will be Phil Dalhausser, Sean Rosenthal, and April Ross. The price is certainly right as there is no charge for general admission seating.
The annual publishing industry confab Book Expo America took place last week at the Javits Center. What was somewhat dismaying was the lack of sports titles coming from the major publishing houses. Sports-oriented Triumph Books out of Chicago was unsurprisingly touting a biography of Cubs manager Joe Maddon that was written by ESPN’s Jesse Rogers, while Meredith Publications, which took over TIME Magazine’s publications in a merger last year, was displaying future Sports Illustrated book titles.
Two other trade shows were also taking place at the Javits Center, the International Franchise Expo and the Cannabis World Congress & Business Expo (CWCBE).
Former Jets safety and current SNY-TV football analyst Erik Coleman was present at the NFL Alumni booth at the Franchise Expo. NFL Alumni was raising funds for its charitable foundation through a silent auction in which attendees could bid on various sports memorabilia.
Coleman and another ex-Jet, former running back and longtime Long Island City resident Tony Richardson, are both involved in helping recently retired NFL players adjust to civilian life in the real world through the NFL’s “Bridge To Success” program.
NFL running back Mike James was a keynote speaker at the fifth annual CWCBE and he spoke about how medical marijuana has helped him recover faster from injuries than traditional medicines and that he believes that it is far healthier than synthetic pharmaceuticals.
Jimmy Kimmel got off a clever line about his network’s cancellation of “Roseanne” in spite of it being a highly rated and very profitable show for ABC. “We have no shows now. We need the NBA Finals to go eleven games!”