Sports Beat: “Let’s go vax!’

Rich von Biberstein/Icon Sportswire

It may not have been a coincidence that New York governor Andrew Cuomo opened the eligibility for COVID-19 vaccinations for all individuals 16 and older, the week both the Mets and Yankees were hosting their season openers. Both teams took advantage to schedule vaccines for their players following a game when players could have an off-day after getting their shot in case of reactions.

Major League Baseball has made no secret it wants all players to get vaccinated. Frankly everyone should want to get them so they can ward off this evil virus and get our lives back. As a sweetener for the players, MLB COVID protocols would be eased for all teams that achieve 85% of player vaccine compliance. Those teams don’t have to wear masks in the dugout; can eat at restaurants outside of the team hotel on the road; and won’t have to quarantine in the event of a teammate testing positive for the virus.

Taking the vaccine would sound like a no-brainer but a number of Mets players including JD Davis, Michael Conforto, and Pete Alonso told the media that vaccines were “a personal choice.” Guys, personal choices don’t cut it when you’re in a public health crisis trying to eradicate a dangerous airborne virus which can be spread by asymptomatic individuals.

There may be a method to the madness of anti-vaxxer players. For the past year the sporting press has understandably not been allowed to enter the players’ sanctuary–the clubhouse. While most baseball players are smart enough to understand media attention helps drive up their compensation, there are a number of yahoos who don’t get that obvious fact and think life is better for them if their only dealings with the press are restricted to Zoom. These dopes don’t realize they would get paid like pro lacrosse players if it weren’t for media coverage of their sport.

Mets team president Sandy Alderson spoke to the press via Zoom last Monday and forcefully expressed his belief in the vaccines. Alderson admitted there was significant hesitancy among Mets players about the vaccine. New Mets owner Steven Cohen was part of the Zoom presser and it would have been nice if he backed Alderson by urging his players to get vaccinated. Instead “Uncle Steve” said nothing.

In comparison, Yankees manager Aaron Boone declared he felt confident that more than 85% of Yankees players would get their vaccines from Montefiore Hospital physician D. Philip Ozuah following Wednesday’s game. He was proven right. In addition the Yankees had Michael Kay interview Dr. Ozuah on the YES Network during Wednesday’s game as a way of urging all Bronx Bombers fans to get their shots.

On Saturday Mets general manager Zack Scott admitted the team failed to reach the 85% threshold. I can’t say I was surprised.

Mets SNY announcers Gary Cohen, Ron Darling, and Keith Hernandez all prefer the Mets to win games rather than lose them but they were rightfully incensed about the way the Mets won Thursday’s home opener.

With the bases loaded in the bottom of the ninth it appeared Miami Marlins relief pitcher Anthony Bass had struck out Michael Conforto. Umpire Ron Kulpa originally rung up Conforto but quickly reversed himself when he realized his elbow had been grazed by the pitch. He was awarded first base and the Mets had a cheesy 3-2 win.

Conforto had made no effort to avoid getting hit and he should have been called out. Kulpa, to his credit, admitted to the media after the game he had blown the call.

Mets fans on social media seemed to take the attitude of “a win is a win and no one should complain.” Given what we saw of the Mets the first week of this season, perhaps the motto should be “beggars can’t be choosers.”

This was bound to happen anyway but the pandemic really pushed this issue. Citi Field has become totally cashless for all transactions so bring your credit or debit cards to the ballpark.

Not that he needs the money after signing a $341 million, ten-year contract with the Mets but shortstop Francisco Lindor has just signed a deal with Oakley to promote its Encoder line of sunglasses. Oakley also sees Queens, the world’s borough, as a key part of its marketing strategy for Encoders and has enlisted athletes from our borough such as competitive bicyclist Nigel Sylvester, skateboarder Yaz, running coach Francisco Balagtas, and surfer Terumi Alana Murao.

Jalen Suggs’ long-distance buzzer beater which led the Gonzaga Bulldogs to victory in overtime against the UCLA Bruins in the NCAA Men’s Basketball Championship Final Four seemed to get quickly forgotten two days later when the Baylor Bears destroyed Gonzaga in the championship game. It was kind of like how we would remember the 1980 US Men’s Olympic Hockey Team had they beaten the USSR in the semis but wound up losing the championship game to Finland.

The 2021 NFL Draft will be held in Cleveland in two weeks and that city’s most famous cultural institution, the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame, will be having a special exhibit to showcase the 55 musical performances which have taken place during halftime at the Super Bowl.

ABC’s much publicized “Rebel,” starring Katey Sagal as an organizer whose life’s mission is to take on corporate bad guys in class action lawsuits the way real life crusader Erin Brockovich, who serves as the executive producer of this series, did. The script totally strains credibility but it’s fun to watch Katey Sagal, who is a long way from her Peg Bundy “Married With Children” days, handle the lead chores here.

FOX Broadcasting has announced it will be rebooting the old ABC ‘70s series, “Fantasy Island,” this coming August. No word as to which actors will take on the roles the late Ricardo Montalban and Herve Villechaize made famous.

The network will also be launching two new reality/game shows “Crime Scene Kitchen” and “Mental Samurai.” Comedian Joel McHale hosts “Crime Scene Kitchen” in which epicureans have to guess the recipes for a dessert based on just the remaining crumbs on a plate. Actor Rob Lowe anchors “Mental Samurai” in which contestants have to answer trivia questions while battling obstacle courses and an assortment of thrill rides. Both shows will debut the end of May.

Although we are by no means out of the woods as far as the COVID-19 pandemic goes, the advent of vaccines has led to an increased demand for air travel to exotic destinations. Panama is promoting its Chiriqui Highlands which is known for growing top-notch coffee and for its volcanoes (most of which are dormant) and spectacular waterfalls.

The Pritikin Longevity Center in Miami has long been known as a vacation resort for those who want to shed weight because of its exercise programs and healthy dining. The folks at Pritikin, along with its chief competitor, the Canyon Ranch & Spa in Tucson, AZ and three other locales, understandably expect to see pent-up demand as the COVID-19 rate hopefully decreases.

Closer to home, the Emerson Resort & Spa in Ulster County has renovated its hiking and biking trails. Guests are given complimentary bicycles during their stay so you don’t have to schlep the Schwinn. Their outdoor pool is scheduled to open Memorial Day weekend albeit at reduced capacity.


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