Every major league team counts on its first baseman to be a hitting star. If a team’s first baseman is struggling at the plate then the odds are that the team will be struggling as well. When the season began both the Mets and the Yankees appeared to be solid at first base.
Ike Davis, who missed a good chunk of last season with leg and foot problems, was supposed to be fully recovered and poised to have a breakout season, particularly with the Mets having moved in the fences at Citi Field.
Mark Texeira was considered money in the bank for the Yankees, given both his Gold Glove fielding prowess and his history of belting homers and driving in runs.
Unfortunately for fans of our local baseball teams, both Davis and Texeira have started the 2012 campaign as badly as one could ever imagine. Ike has looked rusty as he has constantly flailed at bad pitches. He was hitting a pathetic .163 as the weekend drew to a close.
Mark has fared only slightly better, hitting a nothing-to-write-home about .226. Of greater concern to Yankees manager Joe Girardi is that Texeira has been battling a bronchial infection all season that has so far proven resistant to antibiotics. Obviously it’s hard for a player to perform when he clearly isn’t feeling well.
Mayor Bloomberg and Major League Baseball Commissioner Bud Selig announced last Wednesday that the 2013 All-Star Game will be played at Citi Field. Selig said he was thrilled to have the midsummer classic return to New York and cited the Yankees’ fine stewardship of the All-Star Game four years ago as a reason for awarding it to the Mets next year.
Although not known as a baseball fan, Mayor Bloomberg noted how one of my childhood heroes, Phillies outfielder Johnny Callison, hit a three-run home run in the bottom of the ninth to win the 1964 All-Star Game for the National League by a score of 7-4. It was the only All-Star Game ever played at Shea Stadium. The mayor said he hoped the 2013 game would have a similar dramatic finish.
Given that the Mets are understandably making a big deal of their 50th anniversary this season, I asked Mets Chief Operating Officer Jeff Wilpon why the team did not try to defer the game until 2014 to mark the golden anniversary of the last one held in Queens. “This is what we were offered,” he said forthrightly.
Selig quickly chimed in that he likes alternating the game between National League and American League parks, with the NL getting the game in odd years and the AL in the even. Bud neglected to point out, however, that the 2006 All-Star contest was played in San Francisco while the following year it took place in Pittsburgh, both National League cities.
Considering that he will turn 40 in three weeks and that he missed all of the 2011 season because of a premature retirement, Andy Pettitte’s performance last Friday night against the Reds at Yankee Stadium, when he held them scoreless for eight innings, was nothing less than amazing.
The Reds had to have been happy with Major League Baseball’s scheduling department as they got to spend five days in New York. On Wednesday and Thursday they played the Mets and they shifted to the Bronx on Friday to take on the Yankees for the weekend. I wonder if they had time to do any of the traditional touristy stuff such as catching a Broadway show or checking out any of our museums.
MLB also did a smart thing scheduling the Cubs to play the White Sox last weekend when the NATO summit was taking place in Chicago. Hotel rooms not surprisingly were quite scarce in the Windy City and it would have been difficult for an out-of-town baseball team to find a hotel that could have accommodated them. Having the two Chicago teams play each other eliminated that problem.
The third week of May is when all of the broadcast, and some of the top cable, networks announce their fall programming plans to advertisers and the media.
NBC, which has struggled mightily in recent years with its primetime lineup, is hoping that the upcoming Olympic Games in London as well as its Sunday night NFL package will help create viewer interest in its fall offerings. Similarly CBS brought in Eli Manning to make a cameo appearance at their Upfront presentation at Carnegie Hall to promote that the 2013 Super Bowl will be televised by the Tiffany Network. Not to be outdone, Fox announced that its sports division will take over the network on Saturday nights as it will showcase its portfolio of properties including Major League Soccer, college football, NASCAR, and Ultimate Fighting Championship. Fox will also use the UFC for its new Latin America network, Mundo Fox.
On the cable front, ESPN announced that it will be showing more sports documentaries following the success of its “30 for 30” series that was launched in honor of its 30th anniversary three years ago. “The Worldwide Sports Leader” will also broadcast IX for IX, (“nine for nine’) which will consist of nine sports documentaries made by female filmmakers about women athletes.
USA Network, whose president is Holliswood native Bonnie Hammer, will expand its wildly popular Monday night World Wrestling Entertainment program, “RAW,” to three hours effective July 23 to coincide with its 1,000th episode. WWE star John Cena made the announcement at Lincoln Center’s Alice Tully Hall.
TNT has hired the face of the NFL Network, Rich Eisen, to host its “Amazing Race” knock-off, “The Great Escape.” This is a reality show where teams will compete to win big bucks by having to find a way to escape from places as a maximum security prison, a deserted island, or a Medieval maze.