After the Mets were swept by the Braves last weekend, as play resumed following the All-Star Game hiatus, you couldn’t help feel that you’ve seen this movie before. The plot basically goes like this: underdog team led by a fiery manager defies the nay-sayers and plays over its head right up to the All-Star Game. Then the All-Star break comes and the team falls apart because of either (a) injuries, (b) the bullpen breaks down, (c) the Mets’ division rivals start to play a lot better or (d) a combination of the previous choices.
Aside from history, Mets fans had to fear that their heroes may have been running out of gas just before the All-Star break when they were only able to muster one win in three games at Citi Field against one of the worst teams in the majors, the Chicago Cubs. A few weeks earlier, the Mets did the same thing at Wrigley Field.
No team obviously ever likes to lose, but some games hurt a lot more than others. When sportswriters and fans look for turning points in the 2012 season, last Saturday’s debacle in Atlanta, where the Mets held a 7-5 lead going into the bottom of the eighth inning only to watch their bullpen implode yet again as they gave up three runs, will stand out. Relief pitchers are often nicknamed “firemen,” because of their abilities to douse the proverbial flames of opposing runners on base. Queens County District Attorney Richard Brown could probably get a grand jury to indict the Mets bullpen for being arsonists whenever victory is within reach.
The Mets pitching staff suffered a major setback when doctors at Columbia-Presbyterian Hospital discovered a blood clot in Dillon Gee’s pitching shoulder. Gee doesn’t receive a fraction of the press that R.A. Dickey or Johan Santana get, but he is a fine pitcher who keeps his team in nearly every game and generally goes deep into most of them, saving manager Terry Collins from having to over-rely on one of the worst relief staffs in baseball.
Blood clots can be fatal, but Broadway may have indirectly played a part in preventing tragedy. Most players tend to return home during baseball’s midsummer break. When I asked Dillon if he planned to use the upcoming days off to return to Fort Worth, he replied, “My wife and I had such a great time seeing “Rock of Ages” on Broadway last year that we want to catch another show as well as see some museums and try new restaurants.”
Thankfully, Dillon felt numbness and tingling in his right hand while in New York Hopefully, he and his wife will get to see some theatrical productions as he recovers.
In the late 1980s I was interviewing then Pittsburgh Pirates manager Jim Leyland and the topic of pressurized situations in sports came up. “Pressure isn’t winning or losing a game; it’s the ability to feed your family and pay your mortgage,” he replied. I thought of Leyland’s sage words after seeing HBO’s superb and heartbreaking documentary, “Hard Times: Lost in Long Island.”
WFAN did a nice job commemorating its 25th anniversary by bringing back almost every one of its air personalities to reminisce about the station. They neglected, however, to contact Rich Mancuso who, along with Jody McDonald, hosted a professional wrestling program in the wee hours of Sunday mornings for three years in WFAN’s early days. Rich is now a sports columnist for the Bronx News. Note to WFAN programming director Mark Chernoff: it would be fun to revive the wrestling show with Rich.
Mayor Bloomberg has taken a lot of heat for his attempts to limit the distribution of sugary drinks. As someone who doesn’t like the after-taste of most diet drinks yet is mindful of the harmful effects of traditional soft drinks, I often wondered why there isn’t some kind of middle ground.
Things may be changing. Tree Top is now manufacturing a line of reduced sugar juices and apple sauce. Last week Starbucks introduced a juice-based line of drinks called Refreshers that range from 40 to 60 calories for a 12-ounce size depending on whether you choose Lime or Hibiscus Berry.
The weather may be stifling but last week SNOW Magazine held its annual “Snow Biz” trade show at Columbus Circle’s Mandarin Oriental Hotel. Telluride, Colo. sent some reps to promote their resorts while a boutique hotel in Park City, Utah, the Sky Lodge, did the same. Upscale parka manufacturers as M. Miller and KJUS showed off their latest wares while on the other end of the spectrum, a startup company, Bootights, was pitching its hosiery not just for women, but as an alternative to longjohns and thermal underwear for hunters and skiers. Real men can wear tights indeed.