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Queens Chronicle

Matt wins big matchups

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Posted: Thursday, April 25, 2013 10:30 am

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.

When it became clear that Johan Santana would be lost for the 2013 season, it was imperative for Mets management that Harvey succeed. He has delivered beyond even the most optimistic Mets’ fans wildest dreams so far, as this month he has beaten two of baseball’s best pitchers, the Phillies’ Roy Halladay and the Washington Nationals’ phenomenon Stephen Strasburg. The games marked the first time that I could recall the Mets winning a match against either pitcher.

A bonus for the Mets is that Harvey is not a wimp in the batter’s box. He is arguably the best-hitting pitcher that they have had in ages.

Mets players are probably still thawing out from their first road trip of the season, which included stops in frigid Minneapolis and snowy Denver. Mets relief pitcher LaTroy Hawkins played the first seven years of his big league career for the Twins, but they played in a dome stadium back then instead of their current outdoor ballpark, Target Field. “I would never have lasted if I had to play outdoors in April with them!” Hawkins told me.

Dillon Gee couldn’t have picked a better time to come up with a big game than last Sunday, when he threw nearly six innings of shutout ball against the very potent lineup of the Washington Nationals, with the Mets going on to win 2-0. Gee had been roughed up in his first three starts of the season, but it should be noted that he pitched in some very brutal weather.

It had been a foregone conclusion that the Jets were going to trade their All-Pro cornerback Darrelle Revis, but getting back only a first-round pick (the 13th overall) in Thursday’s NFL Draft, as well as a fourth-round pick next year from the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, does not strike me as a good return for new Jets general manager John Idzik.

Life and style

Speaking of baseball and the weather, it’s well-known that San Diego may have the best year-round climate in the United States, as it neither gets cold in the winter nor hot and humid in the summer. New York baseball fans may want to consider taking lengthy August vacations there, as the Yankees will play the Padres the weekend of Aug. 2 through 4, while the Mets come into Petco Park exactly two weeks later.

There are a lot of great hotels that provide a lot of amenities at reasonable rates and have friendly staff to boot. The West Inn & Suites located in the North San Diego town of Carlsbad is a new boutique hotel that is a short walk from the Pacific Ocean. Its two fine dining restaurants, Bistro West and West Steak and Seafood, are as popular with area residents as they are with hotel guests.

The historic Grande Colonial in the La Jolla Village section of San Diego is celebrating its centennial this year. It’s located two blocks from La Jolla Cove, where the sea lions and seals like to reside. The Grande Colonial’s 910 restaurant has won numerous culinary awards for its California cuisine. All of its rooms are quite spacious.

A third option is the Hyatt Regency La Jolla, located just off I-5 in the hip University Town Center neighborhood. Its central location, Olympic-sized outdoor swimming pool, and relaxing concierge lounge make it one of my favorite chain hotels.

Back to sports

The annual ESPN Day at the Tribeca Film Festival will take place this Saturday. Among the sports documentaries that will be screened at the Tribeca Cinemas are “Big Shot,” a film about former Islanders owner John Spano, who bought the team in 1996 despite having few assets to his name, and “Lenny Cooke,” which recounts the sad tale of the Brooklyn native hoops star who many scouts felt had more natural talent than either LeBron James, Carmelo Anthony or Amar’e Stoudemire when he declared himself eligible for the 2002 NBA Draft. He was not selected by an NBA team that night and forfeited a college career in the process.

The Long Island Ducks of the Atlantic League will have some name former major leaguers playing for them this summer. One of the best hitters over the last 20 years, Vladimir Guerrero, will be trying to make a career comeback as will pitcher Dontrelle Willis and former Mets catcher Ramon Castro.

Pat Summerall’s stentorian voice and no-nonsense erudite play-by-play broadcast style disproved the myth that former athletes could only be used in limited game analyst or pre- and post-game roles. He was also the first sports anchor on WCBS-AM when that station switched in 1967 from music to the all-news format that continues to this day. Pat had been in declining health in recent years so his passing last week was not unexpected. Nonetheless, he will be missed.

The Rangers have been a disappointment in this shortened NHL season but they may be turning things around at the most important time. They looked quite sharp Sunday in defeating the New Jersey Devils 4-1 at the Garden, which eliminated the team from Newark from the playoffs. The Blueshirts are holding on to the eighth and final seed in the Eastern Conference as they head into the final weekend of the regular season.

The media will understandably remind all of us about what happened in Boston last week when the New York Marathon comes around next November. There is no way that safety can be guaranteed against psychopaths on a 26.2-mile outdoor route. Law enforcement officials will do their best and we should do ours as well by not cowering in fear and living our lives to the fullest extent.

Food and drink

Hot cereals such as oatmeal tend to be eaten more in the winter than other times of the year. Nonetheless, the cardiovascular benefits that come from quality organic oatmeal from brands as Better Oats and One Degree should not be forgotten about in warmer weather. Both Starbucks and Jamba Juice sell oatmeal in their stores if you are out of the house.

As a kid I loved Cheez Doodles. They’re still a guilty junk food pleasure. A cleverly named company from Connecticut, however, Sneaky Snacks, has created a healthier alternative with its White Cheddar Baked Super Puffs, which are lower in calories and contain more fiber and protein.

Even well-known liquor companies are realizing that more of us are watching our weight. Smirnoff has introduced a Sorbet Light line of fruit-flavored vodkas that it has touted as “reduced calorie.” I guess if you can have light beer, why not reduced calorie vodka?

BET, the leading African-American cable television network, introduced its fall programming last week to media and advertisers last week. To promote its fledgling Centric Network, which you can think of as a soulful VH-1 Classic, BET executives brought out legendary singer Chaka Khan, who can still hit the high notes to “Tell Me Something Good” as if it were still 1975.

A new show, “Strive To Thrive,” starring the attractive husband and wife team of Boris Kodjoe and Nicole Ari Parker, will try to educate the public on how to live healthier lives through proper nutrition and realistic exercise ideas. Kodjoe is one of the stars on BETs biggest hit, “The Real Husbands of Hollywood,” which brilliantly parodies the Bravo Network’s endless “Real Wives” franchise.

Welcome to the discussion.