Mets flamethrowing pitcher Matt Harvey was the center of attention the week leading up to the All-Star Game.
Manager Terry Collins announced earlier in the week that Harvey would miss his scheduled Saturday start against the Pirates because he wanted to make sure that a nagging blister on his hand had time to heal.
Conspiracy theorists immediately jumped on Collins and the Mets organization for coming up with a ruse so that Harvey could start the 2013 All-Star Game at Citi Field. A number of sportswriters immediately decried how Collins and Harvey were letting the Mets down by putting a glorified exhibition game ahead of one that counts in the standings.
Let’s assume for the moment that the cynics are right and Mets management was adamant about having the team’s young ace pitch in the All-Star Game. I fully back that decision. It’s highly unlikely the Mets will be competing in the postseason, so what’s one regular-season game in Pittsburgh that probably wouldn’t be remembered the next day? On the other hand, a Matt Harvey appearance in the All-Star Game should become an integral part of both his legacy and Mets history, which as their fans know has had too many valleys and too few peaks.
Harvey also took heat for posing in the nude (save for his groin area being covered) for the ESPN Magazine’s annual Body Issue that hit newsstands last week. It should be noted that Harvey was one of many athletes who posed tastefully in the buff for the biweekly. He is not even the first Mets player to show off his physique for what is ESPN Magazine’s answer to Sports Illustrated’s Swimsuit Issue. Jose Reyes had a pictorial in it two years ago.
Harvey realizes that sports is part of the entertainment industry. He also knows that baseball players don’t get the commercial endorsements that they used to. Harvey clearly wants to leverage his good looks and the fact that he plays in the nation’s biggest market to become a celebrity beyond sports the way that Derek Jeter, LeBron James, Shaquille O’Neal and the Manning brothers, Eli and Peyton, have.
The Four Seasons in Philadelphia will probably get requests from Mets fans to book Room 263, since that is that where it appears Harvey is playfully delivering room service in the buff.
A few weeks ago I wrote a column, “Punyball,” in which I criticized Mets general manager Sandy Alderson for his failure to acquire ballplayers. In fairness, Alderson has made a few good moves such as signing outfielder Marlon Byrd earlier this year and acquiring lead-off hitter Eric Young, Jr. and shortstop Omar Quintanilla recently.
The New York Islanders drew a good crowd last Thursday night at the Nassau Coliseum for their annual rookie game and skills competition, called the Orange & Blue Scrimmage. All proceeds went to the Islanders Children’s Foundation, the organization’s version of Madison Square Garden’s Garden of Dreams Foundation.
Ilya Kovalchuk’s decision to play hockey in his native Russia was a mixed blessing for the New Jersey Devils. The financially strapped team is now freed up from having to pay his enormous salary. On the other hand, Kovalchuk was by far their most talented player and it will be hard for them to find another one to take up the scoring slack.
Kovalchuk’s personality was rather taciturn and standoffish. For all of his on-ice talent, he was neither fan- nor media-friendly. In short, he was a perfect reflection of the Devils’ management.
Ed Randall is the host of WFAN’s informative long-running Sunday morning “Talking Baseball” program. He is also a prostate cancer survivor. Ed was at the Javits Center All-Star Game Fan Fest urging men to get a PSA blood test. “A lot of men who go to their physicians for blood tests taken during routine physical examinations erroneously assume that the lab will test for prostate cancer. You have to tell your doctor to make sure that a PSA count is taken,” said Randall emphatically.
It was a classy move by the Mets to announce on All-Star Sunday that Mike Piazza will be inducted into their Hall of Fame on Sept. 29.
The late James Brown was often referred to as the hardest-working man in show business. There is little doubt that softball pitching legend and Olympics gold medal winner Jennie Finch was the hardest-working person on Taco Bell All-Star Sunday. Earlier in the day she took part in the Aquaphor NYC Triathlon and then she went to Citi Field to take part in the All-Star Celebrity Softball Game. “I accomplished my goal of finishing the triathlon in under three hours,” she told me during the media availability session in the Citi Field press conference room.
Former Giants QB, onetime star of ABC’s “The Bachelor,” and current ESPN college football analyst Jesse Palmer was the big sports celebrity at the Calgary Stampede, an annual 10-day event in that western Canadian city that celebrates its cowboy heritage. Palmer is Canadian, and grew up in Toronto.
Carl Banks is another former Giants player who has a broadcasting gig, as he has been the color analyst to Bob Papa’s play-by-play on Giants radio broadcasts. Banks also is a clothing entrepreneur with his GIII apparel line. He recently entered into a joint venture with the clothing giant Iconix to relaunch the Starter brand in order to create a line of satin baseball jackets. Banks is hoping to revive a late ’80s fashion staple that seemed to be a uniform for anyone who worked for a record company back in the day.
While I don’t agree with Mayor Bloomberg’s goal of banning sugared soft drinks that come in servings greater than 16 ounces, there is no argument that nonsugared beverages are better for your health. The problem for me has always been the horrible aftertaste. For years the only two diet drinks that I have been able to tolerate were Diet Peach Snapple and Diet Dr. Pepper.
Things have improved in the zero-calorie beverage world. Honest Fizz is made by the folks at Honest Tea, and I have no problems with its taste. The same can be said for Activate, which calls itself a nutrient water beverage, and competes with Coca Cola’s Vitaminwater, founded by Middle Village native Mike Repole, who sold the company to Coke a few years ago. Coke recently moved Vitaminwater’s headquarters to Manhattan from Whitestone.