The Week That Was: The CoCo Open

Coming off of her surprisingly strong performance at Wimbledon where she made it to the fourth round and defeated a number of top-ranked players along the way, including Simona Halep, it was not the least bit surprising that most of buzz coming into the US Open was about 15 year-old Cori Gauff who prefers to be called Coco.

      Although she didn’t do quite as well at the US Open, bowing to defending champ Naomi Osaka in a third round match Saturday night, Gauff proved that her Wimbledon success was not a  fluke.

      ESPN reported that nearly 2% of all households who had a TV set on Saturday night at 7 PM were watching her play. That is an incredibly high stat for a tennis match on cable.

     Following her second round win, Gauff displayed a poise that clearly belied her young age. When asked about the pressures of sudden fame, she smiled and said that it has all been fun so far and that she takes pride in the fact that so many young people have told her that they have picked up a tennis racket because of her success.

     Serena Williams is listed as one of the marquee speakers at the annual conference dedicated to branding, marketing, media, and pop culture known as Advertising Week New York which will be taking place September 23-26 and whose CEO is Bayside native Matthew Scheckner.

    The only problem is that apparently nobody on Williams’ business team told her about her scheduled appearance because when I asked her what she’ll be discussing there she blankly responded, What’s Advertising Week?” It makes one wonder how involved she really is with her clothing line which has long been a US Open media Q&A staple with her.

     New York Mets third baseman Todd Frazier is known for his great sense of humor even when things aren’t going well. Frazier had been in a slump during the Mets’ last homestand which ended with a six-game losing streak. During batting practice he saw a woman charging her phone in the Mets dugout. Frazier wrapped his bat around her cord and asked “Could you charge my bat as well?”            

     Second baseman Joe Panik has been productive since joining the Mets after being waived by the San Francisco Giants. Panik is no stranger to our area as he grew up in Duchess County and graduated from St. John’s University. I’m proud to call him a longtime column reader. “I finally joined the good guys!” he said with a smile the first time that I saw him wearing a Mets uniform.

     Mets reliever Seth Lugo is happy to be riding buses and trains during the current Mets road trip to Philadelphia and DC. “By this point in the season players are tired of flying,” he said. Amtrak or Greyhound should seek out his services as a spokesman.

     It was unfortunately business as usual for the American men at the 2019 US Open as they were all eliminated by the end of the first week when John Isner and the fortuitously-named Tennys Sandrgen both lost their matches this past Saturday. Had such traditional high men’s seeds as former US Open champ Juan Martin del Potro, Kevin Anderson, and Milos Raonic not been forced to withdraw because of injuries then there is a good chance that every American men’s tennis player would have been bounced even sooner.

     Actor Chazz Palminteri was one of the many celebrities who walked the red carpet at the US Open outside Arthur Ashe Stadium on Opening Night. He is most famous for both writing and starring in “A Bronx Tale” and so it’s not surprising that he’s a big New York Yankees fan and is very upbeat about their chances about their chances of winning their 28th World Series in franchise history. “Their offense is great; I  like their bullpen; and I think that their starting pitching is frankly underrated,” Palminteri said confidently.

     Right behind Palminteri on the carpet was “Shark Tank” co-star Daymond John who grew up in Hollis and graduated from Bayside High School. John is best known for founding the informal leisure-wear company. “I ‘m now designing suits but unfortunately I can’t place a logo on them,” he said with a laugh.

     Former Mets first baseman Mo Vaughn was inspired by Fubu to start MVP Collections which makes the same kind of apparel (baseball caps, t-shirts, sweats, and jeans) but for big and/or tall men. Baseball Hall of Famer Frank Thomas, who is best known these days for those tongue-in-cheek Nugenix testosterone booster TV commercials, has joined MVP as a spokesman and equity partner.

     The New York Jets made a couple of surprising roster cuts leading up to their opening game of the 2019 NFL season this Sunday against the Buffalo Bills. New Jets general manager Joe Douglas  released running back Elijah McGuire who saw a lot of action in 2018 and the team’s third round pick from this year’s NFL Draft, University of Florida linebacker Jachai Polite who was chosen by Douglas’s predecessor, Mike Maccagnan. Polite apparently failed to impress either Douglas or new Jets head coach Adam Gase.

    Jachai Polite is yet another in a very long line of unproductive high Jets draft choices. If you wonder why it has been 50 years since a Jets team has appeared in a Super Bowl there is your answer.

     The Brooklyn Nets made a big splash over the summer signing big-name free agents as Kevin Durant, Kyrie Irving and DeAndre Jordan. While that obviously caused excitement the reality is that for any organization to succeed it has to develop its own talent. Last week Nets general manager Sean Marks announced that he had given a three-year extension to arguably the team’s best homegrown player in years, forward Caris LeVert. LeVert incidentally is distantly related to members of the LeVert singing family who had big hits back in the 1980s.          

     MSNBC announced last week that it will no longer air “Saturday Night Politics” that was hosted by Hollis native and former ad agency CEO Donny Deutsch. Network executives claim that the show was only intended to have a summer run.

     Donny Deutsch, as is his wont, was an engaging host although he occasionally had trouble reigning in some of his exuberant political pundits who generally, but not always, were anti-Trump. Deutsch made it clear that he was also not a fan of his fellow Queens native who is now residing at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue in Washington, DC but he tended to express his opinions in a lighthearted way as opposed to being dogmatic.

    Deutsch’s show was also one of the few original shows to air during primetime on Saturdays. The death last week of actress Valerie Harper, of both “Rhoda” and “The Mary Tyler Moore Show” fame, reminded me of how Saturday night was TV’s best night of the week in the 1970s when CBS would air “All In The Family,” “The Mary Tyler Moore Show,” “The Bob Newhart Show,” and “M*A*S*H.” Talk about a Mount Rushmore of television.

     I spoke with Kelly Kahl who is the CEO of CBS Entertainment at last month’s Television Critics Association Summer Tour in LA about bringing Saturday nights back to life since not everyone goes out or watches college football which seems to dominate the night in the fall. “That’s always been a dream of mine to do that but we have to find a way to make the economics work. Reruns, as you know, are free.” he candidly told me. The end of “Saturday Night Politics” only serves to throw more cold water on making Saturday nights great again on television.

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