I arrived early for a Yankees game a couple of weeks ago in order to watch the Bronx Bombers take batting practice. While the hitters were limbering up, a Yankees highlight film was being shown on the scoreboard. What caught my attention was a feature on former Yankees catcher Rick Cerrone who is now the owner of the Newark Bears of the Atlantic League. The Yankees were quite gracious in promoting Cerrone’s new venture considering that the Atlantic League has no affiliation with Major League Baseball.
The Yankees magnanimity towards Rick Cerrone is in sharp contrast to the Mets’ dour attitude towards Bud Harrelson, arguably the best shortstop in the team’s history, and a member of the Mets Hall of Fame. Harrelson is field manager and co-owner of the Long Island Ducks of the very same Atlantic League. It has been no secret that the Mets were not happy to see an independent baseball league franchise take hold in Suffolk County, particularly one that was started by a loyal Mets employee for over 30 years.
It has vexed Mets’ executives to no end that the Ducks have been a real success story. They have sold out most of their games at Central Islip’s 6,000-seat EAB Stadium while the Mets-owned Queens Kings of the NY-Penn League can barely draw a third of that on a good day at the Ballpark at St. John’s University.
You can be sure that the Mets will never do for Harrelson what the Yankees did for Cerrone. Further proof of the Mets’ animosity towards Harrelson occurred during the team’s “10 Greatest Moments” celebration. When Bud Harrelson was introduced to the crowd at Shea by the public address announcer no mention was made of the Long Island Ducks. The Mets could have shown a touch of class here but they chose not to.
ýeanu Reeves’ new film, “The Replacements,” takes its inspiration from the failed 1987 NFL Players strike. The players struck in October of that year but the games went on (sort of, anyway) with replacement players. Needless to say, the quality of play for the three weeks that the pros walked the picket line stunk to high heaven.
ýf course “replacement” is a nice euphemism for a harsher labor term. I have a strong hunch that Warner Brothers would have trouble marketing a film called “The Scabs” as a warm fuzzy comedy. “The Replacements” is Hollywood at its hypocritical best. I guarantee that you would never see a movie being made about ordinary people who crossed a Screen Actors Guild picket line in order to gain a shot at stardom.
Although it barely made a ripple in the sports pages, the Nets’ re-signed forward Johnny Newman. Newman is an amazing athlete. He is about to begin his 15th NBA campaign and he still looks as if he just graduated from college. Newman is still a reliable outside shooter which is something you can’t say about most of the other Nets players.
Former St. John’s pitching star C.J. Nitkowski, currently a member of the Detroit Tigers, was in town last month. C.J. has not let the fact that he has had a mediocre big league career dull his keen wit. Two years ago he started a website, www.cjbaseball.com, and it has attracted a large following on the Internet because of his humorous observations about life in the majors. Nitkowski not only talks about baseball but he also critiques restaurants and points of interest in the cities he visits.