This past Friday night, the Yankees honored Derek Jeter for his induction into the National Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown last year. Jeter, of course, has been honored by the Yankees many times before, so it was not surprising that this night was a bit more lighthearted than past Yankees’ on-field tributes to one of their players.
The Yankees fans immediately booed team CEO Hal Steinbrenner when Jeter expressed his thanks to him. Quickly reading the fans’ mood, he then thanked his old antagonist, Yankees general manager Brian Cashman, just so he could hear cascading boos as well. Jeter then told the Bronx faithful they should be thanking Hal Steinbrenner. He did not beseech the crowd to do the same for Cashman.
At a press conference following the ceremony, Derek Jeter was asked why he asked for a better public reception for Hal Steinbrenner, Jeter joked, “I remember when I got in trouble for defending fans’ right to boo!”
One of his young daughters was tugging at his pants while he was making his speech. “I promised my daughters that if they stayed in their seats for the entire ceremony, I would get them ice cream. They lost the bet! I think they are all enjoying ice cream right now however,” Jeter said with a smile.
He was, of course, asked the obligatory question about whether he would like to be part of a baseball ownership group, after having stepped away from the Miami Marlins before the start of 2022 spring training. “Do you want to finance me?” he playfully asked the inquiring reporter.
Jeter constantly referred to the recent seven-part ESPN documentary about his life, “The Captain.” In the last episode, Jeter’s five years as the CEO of the Miami Marlins was broached, but the reasons for his falling out with Marlins money guy and majority owner, Bruce Sherman, were not revealed. Jeter’s jocularity temporarily stopped when I asked him if he would be more forthcoming about what caused the not so amicable separation. “I’ve said all I’m going to say about it. You will have to ask him (Sherman) if you want more details.”
He told the media he planned on being at Yankee Stadium more frequently in 2023 but refused to say whether it would be in an employment capacity with the Yankees.
Yankees shortstop Isiah Kiner-Falefa grew up in Honolulu. I mentioned to him fellow Aloha State natives Benny Agbayani and Sid Fernandez were in town a couple of weeks ago for Mets Old Timers’ Day. “I have gotten to know them. They have been terrific mentors,” he said.
Yankees reliever Scott Effross, who is Jewish, is grateful the regular season, has been extended by a week because of the lockout earlier in the year. “I don’t have to worry about the high holy days coinciding with the playoffs,” he acknowledged.
Reserve Yankees outfielder Tom Locastro, who is arguably the speediest player on the team, grew up in Syracuse and attended Ithaca College. “I am a year away from completing my business degree. Major League Baseball reimburses college tuition, but you must do it on a full semester basis, so I will wait until I retire to go back to school.” Locastro is interested in a post-playing career in the business side of baseball.
Kudos to the San Diego Padres for offering their fans unlimited bottles of water during the recent brutal heat wave which affected Southern California. It would not hurt either the Mets or the Yankees, both of whom have sponsorship deals with beverage companies, to do the same for their patrons on those hazy, hot, and humid days.
I was saddened to learn last week of the passing of one of baseball’s good guys, relief pitcher Mark Littell, from post-cardiac surgical complications. Littell was a terrific relief pitcher in the late 1970s and early 1980s for the Kansas City Royals and St. Louis Cardinals. He would later become an author writing three books on his life coaching baseball in both the minor leagues, and later overseas. On a personal note, Mark liked reading my weekly column and would frequently correspond via email.
It was classy of both US Open men’s runner-up Casper Ruud, and the 2022 men’s champion, Carlos Alcaraz, to acknowledge the 21st anniversary of 9/11 during the post-match trophy ceremony on the floor of Arthur Ashe Stadium.
Here’s hoping 19-year-old Carlos Alcaraz won’t change his effervescent personality as he spends more on the professional tennis tour. He is one of the few athletes I have ever met who looked forward to talking with the media. His English is a work-in-process but that will surely improve with the passage of time. I spoke to him in Spanish after his second-round win and asked him if he would try to spend some time exploring New York City when his work was done at the Open. “I would very much like to that, There is a lot to see and do here!” he replied with a huge smile. I have a feeling it will be harder for him to do that in anonymity after his big win at Flushing Meadows.
The New York Jets, as expected, lost to the more talented Baltimore Ravens 24-9 in their Sunday season opener at MetLife Stadium. The Jets may have been better off starting the more mobile Mike White at quarterback instead of old vet Joe Flacco as they await the return of Zach Wilson. Flacco played many years for the Ravens and their head coach, John Harbaugh, knew his weaknesses. Harbaugh’s defensive schemes easily contained Flacco and the Jets offense. In fairness, he was not helped by the Jets’ weak offensive line. Flacco spent more time than he would have liked on his keister.
It has been years since the Jets have resembled a good team, but the team’s management does try to make the in-game fan experience pleasant. They have a value meal deal in which you can buy a hot dog, soft drink, and chips for $7. In addition, you can chat with various former Jets players before every game outside MetLife Stadium. Tony Richardson and Blair Thomas were on hand last Sunday.
Forward Royce O’Neale was signed over the summer as a free agent by the Brooklyn Nets. O’Neale is known for his defense which has been a Nets weakness for years. He visited Citi Field during the Mets’ last homestand. He and his friend, Donovan Mitchell, were teammates for years with the Utah Jazz. Mitchell was hoping the Jazz would trade him to the Knicks since he grew up in Westchester. The Jazz traded him to the Cleveland Cavaliers instead. O’Neale told me Mitchell spoke highly of New York and it was a factor in his decision to sign with the Nets.
NYCFC played the last of its six scheduled games at Citi Field Wednesday night as it played to a 1-1 draw with Cincinnati FC. A team spokesperson told me the team will play six games at Citi Field in 2023. MLS commissioner, and Bayside High School alum, Don Garber
is hoping NYCFC will get its own stadium around Citi Field soon.
Current and retired sports stars have become big “gets” for network television reality series. CBS’s popular “Amazing Race” has former New York Jets head coach Rex Ryan participating in its latest edition, while a new CBS series, “Secret Celebrity Renovation,” which sounds like a knock-off of the old ABC hit, “Extreme Makeover,” will feature Rams defensive end Aaron Donald and NBA legend Shaquille O’Neal in episodes.
The past spring CBS debuted “Beyond the Edge,” in which celebrities in the worlds of athletics and entertainment navigated an inhospitable Panamanian jungle. Among those testing their survival skills were former NFL linebackers Mike Singletary and Ray Lewis, and retired NBA star and Queensbridge native Metta World Peace, who was known as Ron Artest when he played for the St. John’s University Red Storm.
FOX is borrowing the concept of “Beyond the Edge” but shifting it to a Jordanian desert with “Special Forces,” with retired military personnel putting “the recruits” through their paces. It will launch in January 2023. Among the participants are current NBA player Dwight Howard, former women’s soccer star Carli Lloyd, and Mets legend Mike Piazza.
During a FOX Zoom press conference to promote the show, Piazza described the experience as humbling, and added that playing a team sport like baseball, helped him get through what had to be an ordeal. He also tipped his hat to the toughness and resilience shown by the entertainers who joined him on the show as former Spice Girl Mel B, and singer Montell Jordan.
It was just a few years ago when vegan versions of meat and fish favorites were first introduced to consumers. It wasn’t long before the Impossible Foods and Beyond Meat companies were having their Impossible and Beyond hamburgers sold at near every fast-food chain.
The vegan food industry has exploded as was evidenced by the number of exhibitors at last week’s Plant Based World Expo held at Javits Center. Maspeth’s Alle Processing was displaying its vegan take on its many kosher deli items, while Long Island City’s Blackbird Foods was displaying its frozen pizza varieties and vegan chicken strips. A Manhattan-based company, Fun-Gal Snacks, which got started two years ago during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, was offering samples of its Popadelics, which are crunchy mushroom chips. The “Popadelics” name is a humorous nod to the hippies of the 1960s who enjoyed certain mushroom varieties because they were associated with psychedelics. You will enjoy the taste, but you won’t get high from Popadelics.