I spoke with Mets outfielder and Whitestone native Mike Baxter last Wednesday at Yankee Stadium as the Mets were in the midst of their four-game sweep of the Yankees, and I asked him if he was concerned there would be a letdown in the next series, held this past weekend, when the Mets traveled to Miami to play one of the worst teams in the majors, the Marlins.
Baxter did not pooh-pooh my question but understandably invoked the time-honored ballplayer philosophy of taking it one game at a time. “Let’s get through with this series first,” he responded.
The NBA Draft Lottery held last week at the Disney Studios in Times Square determined the order of selection in the 2013 NBA Draft, scheduled for June 27 at the Barclays Center. The participants were all from NBA clubs that did not qualify for the playoffs, which meant that for the first time in years, neither the Knicks nor Nets were involved. Nevertheless, there were a number Queens-related stories.
Ernie Grunfeld, the greatest basketball player in Forest Hills High School history, was at the lottery as president of the Washington Wizards. Ernie has the unique perspective of having been a former first-round draft choice himself, as he was chosen by the Milwaukee Bucks in 1977, and now is in the position of selecting a player for that honor. I asked him about his memories of being selected by an NBA team after finishing his four years at the University of Tennessee.
The Subway Series, which gets underway on Monday at Citi Field and concludes Thursday at Yankee Stadium, is a great way to take stock of our two Major League Baseball franchises. Last June the Mets dropped five out of six games against the Yankees, which served as a warning that their supposed terrific first half when they won 46 games was a mirage.
This year the Mets are not teasing their fans, as they have been playing at the low level that was expected of them before the season began. The Yankees, on the other hand, have been near or at the top of the American League East standings despite the loss to injuries of such household names as Derek Jeter, Alex Rodriguez, Mark Texeira and Curtis Granderson. Granderson has returned to the team but was replaced on the disabled list by veteran pitcher Andy Pettitte.
It’s been 30 years since the New York Islanders won their last Stanley Cup, and frankly, they have been abysmal for most of the years between 1983 and now. During this labor-dispute-shortened National Hockey League season, the Islanders played respectably enough to earn their first playoff berth in seven years as they clinched the eighth and final spot in the Eastern Conference.
The Islanders drew the unenviable assignment of playing Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin and the rest of the Pittsburgh Penguins, long an NHL powerhouse, in the first round. To their credit, the Isles showed that they weren’t merely happy to be there, as they battled hard to force the series to six games. Unfortunately for the Isles, they lost two overtime games at the Nassau Coliseum, including Saturday night’s finale.
September 2014 will mark the end of an era as CBS, the network that has broadcast the championship matches of the US Open as far back as anyone can remember, will not renew its contract with the United States Tennis Association when it expires next year, the Queens Chronicle has exclusively learned.
It took about 15 hours for the first fallout from the Nets’ disappointing Game 7 loss to the undermanned Chicago Bulls in the first round of the NBA playoffs to be felt. Nets general manager Billy King announced that interim head coach PJ Carlesimo would not be offered a contract.
Given the way the Nets choked away a 14-point lead with three minutes to go in the fourth quarter, combined with their putrid performance in the decisive Game 7 — trailing by 17 points at the half before making a too little, too late run — it was inevitable that Carlesimo would get his walking papers.
Jets fans, who are notorious for booing any player their team selects at the NFL Draft, broke into thunderous cheers at Radio City Music Hall Friday night upon hearing that Gang Green had chosen Geno Smith. The reason for this euphoria was the belief that beleaguered Mark Sanchez’s days as a Jet were numbered.
I hate to spoil the fans’ fun, but the Jets would be better off having Smith learn the NFL by watching the action and holding a clipboard this year the way that Aaron Rodgers, Tom Brady and so many other greats did in their first pro season.
It’s unlikely that the Mets will be playing meaningful games this coming September, but starting pitcher Matt Harvey has singlehandedly given the Flushing faithful a commodity they have lacked for a long time — hope.
Harvey was the Mets’ top pick (seventh overall) in the 2010 Major League baseball amateur draft. Of course, given the team’s checkered history with “can’t miss prospects,” it’s understandable to take a wait-and-see attitude. He came up for the proverbial cup of coffee with the Mets in August 2012 and was far more impressive than his three-win, five-loss record showed.