The Mets hobbled into Yankee Stadium having won just six of their last 17 games. Their hitting was anemic and there was an overall malaise about them. Granted, the Yankees have their own issues, but on paper, this was still the same lineup that has been a fixture in the postseason. Considering the Bronx Bombers always seem to get the better of their Queens rivals, Mets fans were understandably girding for the worst.
Although they were far from flawless, the Mets won two of the three games. They overcame their usual penchant for leaving runners in scoring position, which was very noticeable when there were runners on third base with less than two out. The Mets batter would invariably strike out. Francisco Lindor’s muffed double-play ball in game one of Sunday’s doubleheader resulted in two gift runs to the Yankees, yet it did not finish off the suddenly resilient Mets.
To paraphrase the late Mets announcer Bob Murphy, the team caught a break from the weatherman when its Friday night game in the Bronx was rained out. “We got back from Atlanta at 4 a.m., so we were pretty tired yesterday. Getting rained out worked to our advantage,” admitted Mets centerfielder Brandon Nimmo Saturday following the Mets’ 8-3 win.
The team probably was still smarting from Wednesday’s 20-2 drubbing at the hands of the Atlanta Braves. Those blowouts are also tough on broadcasters. Ron Darling, trying to get away from the disaster of a game, opined anyone over 35 should not wear a team’s jersey to a sporting event. His remark was immediately the source of anger on social media. My guess is the folks who work in the apparel retail kiosks in Citi Field were less than sanguine with him as well.
Kudos to Yankees communications director Jason Zillo for bringing back HOPE (Helping Others Persevere & Excel) Week after Covid-19 canceled last year’s celebrations. It remains the gold standard of community outreach in Major League Baseball.
Gwen Goldman’s story kicked off HOPE Week. In 1961, then 10, she wrote to then-Yankees general manager Roy Haney requesting to serve as the team’s “bat boy.” Haney wrote her a nice letter denying her request for gender reasons. Goldman kept that letter and sixty years later her daughter reached out to Yankees GM Brian Cashman to see if she could surprise her mom, who remained a diehard fan. Cashman jumped at the chance to correct his predecessor’s decision and last Monday Goldman was in full uniform getting the team’s bats ready. She showed off her sticky hands from taping bats to the delight of her hosts, manager Aaron Boone, pitcher Gerrit Cole and, of course, Cashman.
See the extended version of Sports Beat every week at qchron.com.
New York Daily News sports reporter Dennis Young reported last Friday about how the Mets have refused to give their minor leaguers a housing stipend, and even worse, have taken money out of their paltry paychecks where the team did have a relationship with hoteliers in their minor league city affiliates. Young also wrote that the two teams in closest geographic proximity to the Mets, the Yankees and Philadelphia Phillies, do give their players such stipends or don’t charge them for using hotels for which they have deals in place.
The odds are this was a policy which had been going on for years when the Wilpon family owned the Mets, which would be in keeping with how they did business. New owner Steve Cohen was probably unaware of this penny-pinching policy. He said he will be looking into changing it. I am sure he will and was being diplomatic as to not embarrass former Mets CEO Fred Wilpon, with whom he is still friendly.
It’s no secret minor league baseball players are some of the most exploited workers in this country. If you want to get a glimpse into what life is like in the lower levels of the minors, you should read “Clubbie: A Minor League Baseball Memoir” (University of Nebraska Press) written by Greg Larson, a former clubhouse attendant for the Aberdeen IronBirds, a Baltimore Orioles affiliate. It’s quite upbeat and funny as Larson details how nearly everyone had a side hustle to keep their heads above water financially.
This year’s Nathan’s Hot Dog Eating Contest was not held at its Coney Island flagship restaurant at the corners of Stillwell and Surf Avenues, but rather a few blocks away at the home of the Brooklyn Cyclones, Maimonides Park, because of Covid-19 concerns.
That was great national publicity for the Cyclones. It’s a shame ESPN marred the telecast by having incessant technical issues including when America’s greatest gustatorial athlete, Joey Chestnut, broke his own record by devouring his 76th hot dog in ten minutes.
It’s a new era at WFAN as Brett “Spike” Eskin has succeeded Mark Chernoff as its program director. Eskin is the son of longtime Philadelphia radio/TV sports personality Howard Eskin, a man who is not afraid to ruffle feathers of that city’s boldfaced names, and that is what has made him so popular in that sports-crazed town for so long. In many ways, Eskin is Philly’s answer to the late Howard Cosell in that he tells it like it is. Even people who don’t like his style wind up listening to or watching him.
Chernoff was given a nice sendoff on the air on his last day of work, June 30, by two of his most important hires, Boomer Esiason and Craig Carton. The impression I got was Chernoff may have been pushed out by executives from the FAN’s current corporate owner, Audacy Corp., which is based in the Main Line Philadelphia suburbs. Chernoff insisted he wasn’t finished with radio. He eschewed talk of spending more time with family, reading, and traveling the way Marv Albert did Saturday night after calling his last sporting event, the NBA Eastern Conference playoff game between the Atlanta Hawks and the Milwaukee Bucks, on TNT.
Another prominent sports media figure who retired at the end of June was esteemed Washington Post columnist Thomas Boswell after 52 years there. Boswell was as much a DC institution as the Smithsonian.
Life and style
In yet another sign we are winning the war against Covid-19, New York State’s biggest indoor waterpark, located at the Kartrite Resort in Monticello, has just reopened. For those who prefer an outdoor swimming pool for their upstate New York vacations, the Emerson Resort & Spa is open at full capacity.
SiriusXM has brought back the Beach Boys channel until Labor Day. This 24-hour station plays both the big hits and obscurities from America’s band, as well as the solo projects from its various members over the years. It can be found on Channel 105.
A must film to see is Searchlight Pictures’ “Summer of Soul” which is playing both at theaters and on the streaming service Hulu. The documentary features performances from 1969’s Harlem Cultural Festival, which took place at Mount Morris Park on summer Sunday afternoons and were free to attend. Among those giving riveting performances are the Fifth Dimension, Stevie Wonder (who played the drums during his concert), Gladys Knight & the Pips, David Ruffin, Nina Simone, and Sly & the Family Stone.
Aside from the music, “Summer of Soul” is a great time capsule of New York as the Sixties were ending. NYC Mayor John Lindsay, who has largely been forgotten with the passage of time, is shown to be a handsome, charismatic figure, who while having flaws, did manage to keep New York from experiencing the rioting many other cities were at the time. The troubles Harlem was having in 1969, such as burned-out apartment buildings and a severe heroin problem, are also on display in this documentary. It is shocking that the tapes of the Harlem Cultural Festival have not been released until now.
Long Island City’s Hunter’s Point South Park got some national exposure when the rock band Coldplay did a song there as part of the “Macy’s Fourth of July Fireworks Spectacular” on NBC.
Joseph Gordon-Levitt is a terrific actor, and he proves it again in a new series on the Apple TV Plus steaming service titled “Mr. Corman.” Gordon-Levitt’s character is a failed musician from the San Fernando Valley who now teaches elementary school. It’s a realistic look at what many in their late 20s or early 30s are experiencing. There are some poignant laughs and a bit of sadness here.
Today is World Chocolate Day so enjoy a box of Godivas (godiva.com) especially if you have done your part to end the pandemic by getting vaccinated.