A couple of weeks ago Mets pitcher Chris Bassitt tested positive for COVID-19. He had decided to take the home test after feeling fatigued, and he informed Mets management of the results. The Mets immediately placed him on the COVID-19 unable to play list. Both Bassitt and the Mets acted responsibly. Bassitt spent five days in isolation, and he missed one start.
That should have been the end of the story. When a reporter asked Bassitt about his experience with the coronavirus, he was understandably frustrated about missing a start and letting his teammates down. And then he went off the rails.
After previously saying he was fatigued, Bassitt then claimed he was asymptomatic. The last time I checked, feeling more lethargic than usual is a COVID-19 symptom. He then stunned the media by saying he regretted apprising the Mets about having the virus and would not do so in the future if he tested positive.
Granted, COVID-19 in 2022 is different than COVID-19 in 2020 thanks to vaccines which prevent most hospitalizations and death. Shockingly, there are still all too many major leaguers who refuse to get vaccinated.
Unfortunately, too many Americans were slow to get vaccinated which gave the virus more time to mutate which it is still doing. In fairness, this might have happened even if we had been able to achieve the mythical “herd immunity” thresholds in a timely manner.
The result is we now have omicron subvariants which have been able to infect even those who have been double boosted. The unwelcome news is these virus strains have been a lot more contagious than the original. The good news is that so far, they have not led to an increase in either infirmary or mortality rates.
Bassitt had the self-awareness, and some would argue chutzpah, to acknowledge hiding a positive result would subject his teammates to “a little risk.” It is a lot more than a minor risk to the immunocompromised. His fellow starting pitcher, Carlos Carrasco, is a cancer survivor. The elderly is also a vulnerable population when it comes to COVID-19 infection. Mets manager Buck Showalter is 66 years old. I have a feeling neither gentleman was pleased with Bassitt’s statements. Buck spoke with him the day after his idiotic statement but told the media he will keep that conversation private.
It would not be just his teammates who would be at risk. All Mets players, come into daily contact with team officials, dining staff, and the media. They have a right to know if there is an increased health risk.
Chris Bassitt will be a free agent at the end of the season. I have a feeling no-nonsense 73-year-old team president Sandy Alderson, who is also a cancer survivor, will not be amenable to extending his employment in Flushing
The Mets’ community relations department has been working hard. On June 30 they held a blood drive at Citi Field where donors were given a pair of tickets to an upcoming Mets game. Last Thursday, the team held a Disability Pride Night, and brought in former Yankees outfielder, Curtis Pride, who is deaf, to sign autographs for fans. Finally, they hosted a sandlot game for youngsters at Flushing’s Hinton Park on Friday. Mets outfielder Brandon Nimmo spoke to the budding ballplayers.
Sports Illustrated’s chief baseball writer, Stephanie Apstein, recently caught up with former Yankees relief pitcher Kyle Farnsworth. In an article on the magazine’s website, si.com, Farnsworth is unleashing his inner Arnold Schwarzengger, as he is competing on the senior body building circuit. He discusses slathering lotion on his body for aesthetics, as well as the willpower it takes to pass on Oreo cookies. It should be noted Farnsworth was always muscular, although the fact he wore glasses may have detracted from his extraordinary physique. And no, he was never linked to steroids when he was in the majors.
The American Dream Mall, located next door to MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, will be hosting “Bergen County Fight Night 2.” Among the up-and-comers who will be fighting on the card are Sunnyside middleweight Harley “Heavy Hands” Burke, and Ridgewood featherweight Raymond “The Scientist” Cuadrado.
Speaking of Sunnyside, it is where actor James Caan grew up. Caan, who died at the age of 82 last Wednesday, appeared in a pair of well-received 1970s sports films, 1971’s “Brian’s Song” (which helped establish the concept of a movie made especially for television which was revolutionary at the time), and 1975’s “Rollerball.” My favorite Caan role was when he played an English professor who was also a sports gambling addict named Axel Freed in 1974’s “The Gambler.” A lot of that film was shot in Queens as his character lived in Park City in Rego Park.
PBS has brought back “Firing Line with Margaret Hoover,” for its sixth season. It airs Friday nights at 8:30 on Channel 13. Hoover is the great-granddaughter of the 31st president of the United States, Herbert Hoover. Baby boomers will recall the original “Firing Line” when it was a debate show hosted by iconic conservative pundit, William F. Buckley, who enjoyed the give and take with his liberal guests. Margaret Hoover prefers to have insightful conversations with her guests. Last week she and former New Jersey governor Christine Todd Whitman were commiserating over the rightward tack of today’s Republican Party.
SiriusXM has brought back a station devoted to the music of America’s band, the Beach Boys. The Beach Boys Channel (Channel 105) plays a nice mix of the hits, album cuts, and rarities. Based on past years, SiriusXM execs will yank it by Labor Day. Frankly, there is no reason it shouldn’t last throughout the year. Sirius SM has long had stations devoted exclusively to the music of Elvis Presley, the Beatles, Bruce Springsteen, Jimmy Buffett, and Pearl Jam. The Beach Boys belong in that pantheon.
I am happy to report music is slowly returning to the AM dial around the country. WMEX (1510 AM) was a Boston pop powerhouse from the 1950s through the early 1980s. After too many years of being just another talk radio station, it is back playing the hits from those golden years. You can listen online (wmexboston.com) or via a smart speaker. Closer to home, you can hear your favorite oldies on Long Island’s WHLI (1100 AM) or the Jersey Shore’s WHTG. New York WABC has Cousin Brucie playing those old 45s on Saturday nights, while Joe Piscopo plays Frank Sinatra and his friends on Sunday evenings. WABC owner John Catsimatidis, who grew up listening to WABC when it was “Musicradio 77,” should have the music playing all weekend long.
Summer is the best time of the year for a lot of us, but the heat makes it less than ideal to spend time cooking. A New Hampshire seafood company, Ecofish, has a created Freshe (freshemeals.com), a line of easy-opening canned foods which mix salmon or tuna with vegetables, olive oil, and herbs. Freshe’s offerings are reliable sources of protein, and they are tasty.
A Belgium company, Authentic Fruits (authenticfruits.com), has squeezable pouches of Brazilian fresh fruit such as acai berries and mangos which are full of antioxidants, which many believe help improve immunity from illnesses. They make for very satisfying desserts.