Bernie Williams, Tino Martinez, Dwight Gooden, Mickey Rivers, John Starks and Astoria native and Hall of Famer Whitey Ford were some of the sports luminaries who trekked to Doulgaston last Wednesday night to celebrate the opening of Darryl Strawberry’s first restaurant, Strawberry’s Sports Grill.
Strawberry is smartly leveraging the fact that he played for both the Mets and Yankees, as servers wore Mets-like blue and orange T-shirts with his No. 18 and Yankees-like gray and blue with No. 39 on the back.
As one would expect, there is a ton of sports memorabilia here, including Strawberry’s old Shea Stadium locker and a pair of seats from the Mets’ former home.
Also lending support last week to Darryl was former Mets Manager Bobby Valentine, who was a pioneer in the sports restaurant business and whose namesake restaurant in Stamford, Conn. is still going strong after 30 years.
Mets beat writers, when speculating about who the team’s next manager will be (an understandable pastime given Jerry Manuel’s deservedly tenuous situation), have thrown out such names as Bob Melvin, Terry Collins and Wally Backman, the Brooklyn Cyclones skipper and member of the 1986 World Series-winning team. Not one has suggested that it would make a lot more sense to rehire Valentine, who clearly maximized the abilities of the talent that he was given during his 1997-2002 tenure at Shea. Rehiring Valentine would certainly help 2011 season ticket sales and cheer up a disgusted fan base.
I asked Valentine if he was surprised that the Mets beat writers have ignored the obvious. “I think that they are afraid of losing access,” he said candidly as ever. At the risk of becoming persona non grata in the Citi Field press box, here’s a memo to Mets Chief Operating Officer Jeff Wilpon and General Manager Omar Minaya: Bring back Bobby V.
Last Friday night I visited beautiful Waterfront Park in Trenton, NJ to see the Eastern League’s version of the Subway Series as the Binghamton Mets played the Yankees’ AA team, the Trenton Thunder.
I guess the apples don’t fall far from the trees, as the B-Mets wasted a gem of a pitching performance from starter Robert Carson when their bullpen gave up seven runs in the seventh inning just as the real Mets bullpen was imploding 30 miles south in Philadelphia.
The good news for Mets fans is that third baseman Zach Lutz could be a worthy successor to David Wright and that outfielder Sean Ratliff can hit. Yankees fans can take pride in catcher Austin Romine, second baseman Corban Joseph and centerfielder Austin Krum. The bad news is that the Yanks’ 2007 first-round pick, pitcher Andrew Brackman, appears to be a bust.