Last Sunday evening the Mets held a beautiful 20-minute ceremony saluting those who put their lives on the line on that infamous day as well as honoring Tuesday’s Children, a support group for kids who lost a parent at the World Trade Center. It was a wonderful spectacle as bands and color guards from New York’s uniformed services marched on the field before the game. The lights dimmed for a moment of remembrance and then Marc Anthony delivered as stirring a rendition of “The Star Spangled Banner” as I have ever heard at a ballpark. Later Howard Beach’s own Pia Toscano, the former “American Idol” contestant, performed a resounding version of “God Bless America.” Two beloved ex-Mets, pitcher John Franco and catcher Mike Piazza, took part in the ceremonial first pitch.
The Mets were looking forward to wearing their NYPD and FDNY baseball caps, the kind the 2001 team wore every game following 9/11, but were shocked to discover that Major League Baseball forbade them from wearing the caps during the game.
Josh Thole, the Mets’ union rep, told me the players were livid but that Manager Terry Collins said the fines the MLB would impose would be substantial and that it was better to let the issue slide. Collins showed that he’s no Bobby Valentine, who ironically was at Citi Field that night as a broadcaster for ESPN. If Valentine were still manager, he probably would have demanded that his players wear the hats and then paid the fine himself.
Mets CEO Fred Wilpon should have raised a stink with Commissioner Bud Selig on this matter. Unfortunately, he is up to his eyeballs in liabilities such as the $25 million loan that he received from Major League Baseball. Thus you did not hear a whimper from him, or his son, Chief Operating Officer Jeff Wilpon.
There wasn’t much love between the United States Tennis Association and its players and fans at the U.S. Open. Andy Roddick, Andy Murray and Rafael Nadal were all enraged at having to try to compete on slippery courts in the rain last Wednesday just so the USTA wouldn’t have to issue refunds to patrons.
The next day, eventual men’s champion Novak Djokovic backed the protests, accusing the USTA of failing to properly cover Louis Armstrong Stadium during the wet summer. Waterlogged Armstrong became completely unplayable by last Thursday and big matches had to be moved to smaller courts at the Billie Jean King National Tennis Center, which could not accommodate the seating demand.
The USTA also caused confusion by honoring tickets for certain sessions instead of for the days listed during the second week. There were a lot of angry fans who showed up but were not allowed immediate admittance.
Legendary Mets PR chief Jay Horwitz has proven to be a true Met, as like many players, he’s wound up on the disabled list. Horwitz broke his ankle stepping into a pothole last Thursday when it was pouring. Get well soon, Jay. Citi Field isn’t the same without you.