The Mets have not had a winning season since Citi Field opened in 2009, and things appear unlikely to change in 2014, based on what we’ve seen so far. While they have not been exactly world beaters, on the road the Mets have played better as the visitors than as the home team.
Last week Daily News baseball columnist Andy Martino wrote that Mets management is concerned that the players are fatigued at home because of such factors as making appearances in the community; having to deal with smaller media outlets (a self-serving claim that fits the dailies’ agenda, Andy); and the large number of visitors permitted to go on the field before a game to watch batting practice.
As William Shakespeare wrote in “Julius Caesar,” “The fault is not in our stars ... but in ourselves.” The Mets may not be a good team but to their credit every player I spoke with about Martino’s piece said none of the aforementioned factors affect their performance.
Mets relief pitcher Scott Rice visited PS 92 in Corona last Thursday, where he stressed the importance of reading. “I consider it an honor to be asked to speak at a school,” he said with a smile. “I hope that I can make kids happy and perhaps make some new fans.”
The Mets will be spending this weekend in Philadelphia as they take on the Phillies for five games. Citizens Bank Park is one of the nicest ballparks around and it still looks pristine even though it has been open for 10 years.
Admission to a Phillies home game used to be a hot ticket but the last two years have not been kind to this aging team. Tickets for games at Citizens Bank Park have become more plentiful, which is good news for Mets fans who are willing to take the 100-mile trip. A further bonus for Mets aficionados is that their heroes seem to hit a lot better in South Philadelphia than they do in northern Queens.
While at Citizens Bank Park, be sure to visit Bull’s Barbecue, which is operated by former Phillies slugger Greg Luzinksi. To the best of my knowledge no ballplayers have been felled by stomach issues eating the cuisine there. That apparently was not the case with the Shake Shack at Citi Field, where allegedly Mets first baseman Lucas Duda and Phillies manager Ryne Sandberg suffered food poisoning from undercooked hamburgers.
Duda proved to be a good sport as he was photographed a few days later in a Shake Shack T-shirt. He was well aware of the importance of Danny Meyer’s restaurant to the Mets organization. Sandberg helped the Mets out as well by also wearing one when he was feeling better.
Memorial Day was not a pleasant day to remember for either Mets fans or team management. Relief pitcher Jose Valverde was cut from the team after blowing yet another late-inning lead, this time to the Pittsburgh Pirates in a 5-3 loss. It’s clear that the season-ending injury to closer Bobby Parnell, as well as management’s nickel-and-dime decision not to re-sign LaTroy Hawkins, have come back to haunt the Mets big time.
Beleaguered hitting coach Dave Hudgens was also shown the door, even though manager Terry Collins and general manager Sandy Alderson always seemed to pooh-pooh anyone who tried to tie the Mets’ collective woes to their hitting coach.
Granted, the 2014 Mets won’t make anyone forget about the 1927 Yankees. Murderers’ Row they’re not. Nonetheless, Hudgens did nothing to make any of their hitters better as their collective failure to ever get a clutch hit (they are particularly pathetic with the bases loaded this year) indicates.
I thought that it was pretty cool of President Obama to visit the National Baseball Hall of Fame in upstate Cooperstown last week. Obama is probably the most knowledgeable sports fan among White House occupants since Richard Nixon, and he makes no secret of being a diehard Chicago White Sox fan. “I promised Frank Thomas [the retired Sox slugger who will be inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame this summer] that I would check out the place for him before he got here,” quipped the president.
New York State tourism officials, as well as Baseball Hall of Fame executives, are already talking about the summer of 2020 being a special time in the Leatherstocking District, as that will be when Derek Jeter, barring anything unforeseeable, will receive his plaque of immortality. When I pointed out to Jeter that he is being counted on to drive the economic tourism engine of central New York State in six years, the Yankee shortstop replied as expected: “I haven’t thought about that.” He chuckled when I told him that a lot of other folks have.
I guess Landon Donovan’s skills aren’t what they used to be but there is something awry when arguably the best-known American soccer player of his time is left off the American World Cup team that will be competing in Brazil next month.
Montreal Canadiens sharpshooter PK Subban was absolutely right when he said that Rangers goaltender Henrik Lundqvist was lucky in the first two games of their NHL playoff series. The truth is that given both the speed of the puck and the frequent lack of visibility around the net, all goalies need some luck to make tough saves.
According to Johnson & Johnson, the first aid kit is marking its 125th anniversary. While bandages, gauze and ointments are still staples, this old standby for emergencies is getting more sophisticated. A company called Urgent Rx has come up with a line of powders that don’t require water and claim to alleviate sudden head- and stomachaches, as well as allergy attacks. There is even powdered aspirin for anyone feeling chest pain. It should be noted that these medical aids are not a substitute for seeing a physician.