Following last Thursday’s humiliating 16-1 loss to the Phillies at Citi Field, the obvious concern was whether the Mets were mailing it in. In his post-game press conference, manager Terry Collins, normally a staunch defender of his troops, made it clear that he was disgusted, and practically begged the press to ask the players if they had quit. First baseman Ike Davis and third baseman David Wright both stated their frustration with how things have gone this season but gave a resounding no on the quitting question.
The Mets may be lousy but you can’t say they wallow in despair. The pre-game atmosphere the next afternoon was surprisingly festive, as music blared from the clubhouse — humorously including the old MC Hammer rap, “Too Legit to Quit.” Collins told the media that he apologized to the team for questioning their effort the previous night.
The good vibrations of last Friday afternoon paid dividends as the Mets swept their three-game series with the Miami Marlins, who are clearly the biggest disappointment in baseball. This was supposed to be a big year for the Marlins as they opened a new stadium in downtown Miami and signed former Mets shortstop Jose Reyes, relief pitcher and one-time Met Heath Bell and ace starting pitcher Mark Buehrle. The Marlins were a pick of many to be in the World Series. Instead they’re competing with the Mets for last place in the National League East.
RA Dickey will be on the mound in the Mets’ home finale today, Sept. 27, seeking his 20th win, against the Pittsburgh Pirates. Dickey is one of the stars of the documentary “Knuckleball,” which debuted at the Tribeca Film Festival last spring and is now playing in select theaters nationally. RA stopped by the MLB Fan Cave (the site of the old Tower Records in the Village) last Thursday, along with retired knuckleball pitchers Tim Wakefield and Hall of Famer Phil Niekro, to discuss the baffling pitch.
Knuckleballers are very durable and can pitch well into middle age. Wakefield pitched 19 seasons before calling it a career last February at age 45. I asked him why more teams don’t encourage the development of more of his ilk since they’re less prone to injury than conventional pitchers. “That’s the question that I have been asking my entire career!” he said with a hearty chuckle.
Another advantage for knucklers is not having to worry about pitch counts the way traditional pitchers do since they endure less arm stress. “I think that I set a record by throwing 171 pitches in a game,” Wakefield claimed — with some exaggeration.
Las Vegas may have yet another reason to worry about the Resorts World Casino. Last Saturday night the South Ozone Park gaming venue held its first boxing promotion, with a card that consisted of middleweights, lightweights and featherweights.
Steve Sabol, along with his dad, Ed, established NFL Films, the video arm of the National Football League that was very instrumental in making football America’s game. Utilizing slow motion to highlight perfectly thrown spirals, athletic receptions and breakaway runs through the narrowest of openings — while accompanied by Sam Spence’s brass orchestra and the late Philadelphia newscaster John Facenda’s stentorian tones — the Sabols made the National Football League’s games resemble a ballet recital more than a violent game. Their highlights reels, better known as “This Week In the NFL,” were shown on a local TV station in each American market every weekend.
Sabol had been valiantly battling brain cancer for the past two years and succumbed to the disease last Tuesday. I met him last April at the Sports Emmy Awards and he had one of the most powerful handshakes that I can recall. My right hand hurt for days.
Nets center Brook Lopez was the only player to come to the ribbon-cutting ceremony at the Barclays Center last Friday. “I wanted to see where I’ll be working,” said the always jovial Brook. He seemed pleased with the aesthetics, particularly the herringbone wooden floor, which was clearly inspired by the parquet long used by the Boston Celtics.
While the Nets will play in Brooklyn, they will maintain their practice facility for the next two years in East Rutherford, NJ. Lopez, like a lot of the Nets, will be living in New Jersey and commuting to Brooklyn. The Nets will eventually have to build a practice center closer to their new home arena. They would be wise to look at creating one in Queens because it is the home of the city’s two airports as well as being the neighboring borough to Brooklyn.
The Yankees did a terrific thing letting the Starkey Hearing Foundation take over their stadium last Friday morning to distribute hearing aids to 75 impoverished New Yorkers who suffer from audiology problems. Third baseman Alex Rodriguez and manager Joe Girardi were on hand to offer their support.
Yes, you can say that the Mets have been going to the dogs the whole season, but it was certainly in a good way last Saturday as the Amazin’s held their second “Bark in the Park” promotion that allowed dog owners to bring their best friends to the game in an effort to raise funds for the North Shore Animal League.
Twenty-two-year-old Woodside native Andrew Harts has become a social media correspondent for MLB.com and is videoing behind-the-scenes experiences at big league games with his Samsung Galaxy SIII smartphone, thanks to a joint initiative between Major League Baseball and the Korean electronics manufacturer.
In other electronics news, Duracell has developed the Powermat, which is a flat, wireless charging device that prolongs battery life in smartphones, tablets and the like. The company displayed the device last week at Pepcom, the quarterly electronics trade show where manufacturers show off their latest gizmos.
Showstoppers, Pepcom’s chief rival, had a number of intriguing exhibitors at its annual fall show as well. One item of interest is Boxee, a device that allows you to watch anything on your television that you can find on the Internet without a monthly subscription.
Livio, the company that created an Internet radio device that resembled an old-school AM/FM kitchen model, has gotten out of that business and is now creating mobile phone and Internet applications in automobiles through its Livio Connect division.