Last Friday night was a reminder of what life was like in prepandemic times as the Mets drew around 26,000 spectators for their largest crowd since September 2019. The pitching matchup was stellar, with two recent Cy Young Award winners: the San Diego Padres’ Blake Snell against the Mets’ Jacob deGrom.
Snell, who no-hit the Mets through six innings in San Diego the week before, was good. DeGrom, however, was his usual untouchable self, as he threw six shutout innings and helped his cause with a base hit to drive in a pair of decisive runs in what would be a Mets 3-2 win.
What should have been a joyous evening for the Flushing faithful was tempered greatly by the news deGrom left the game after the sixth inning because of arm pain that was being described as right elbow tendinitis. Mets fans over the years have become too familiar with terms found in “Grey’s Anatomy.”
At the postgame press conference deGrom tried to allay fears, saying he has had this before and will be ready for his next start. The Mets had better monitor this carefully or what has been a surprisingly feel-good season will quickly turn disastrous.
Mets first baseman Pete Alonso caused a stir when he speculated Major League Baseball makes baseballs either livelier or deader depending on whether there will be more top-tier hitters or pitchers in the upcoming class of free agents. Mets General Manager Zack Scott quipped, “I didn’t know Pete was a conspiracy theorist.”
Alonso is right in that the baseballs MLB uses vary from year to year, but I don’t think it’s based on free agency economics. MLB probably makes adjustments based on how the preceding season went. If pitchers dominated hitters, the ball probably gets a little livelier. The opposite is likely true if the hitters were raking in the prior season.
Scott told me with the season over one-third completed he doubts the Mets will get to the magic 85 percent mark of his team’s players getting vaccinated that would allow Covid-19 protocols to be relaxed on the road and in the dugout. The Yankees met this mark in April.
Around 75 percent of the Mets have been vaccinated. Scott blamed bad information sources as the main reason for holdouts. Doctors who work for the Players Association spoke to the team but apparently that wasn’t enough to seal the deal.
Team President Sandy Alderson rightfully stated at the start of the season he expects everyone to get vaccinated. It will be interesting to see what Alderson will do if a free agent the Mets would normally pursue is available but has refused to get vaccinated. My guess is he wouldn’t sign him, and I wouldn’t blame him. Mets reliever Jacob Barnes is not exactly the Jacob deGrom of their bullpen. He always seems to get two strikes on a hitter but is more likely to give up a home run to that hitter than strike him out.
The 2021 Sports Emmy Awards took place last Tuesday and were held virtually. Joe Buck upset the now-retired Mike “Doc” Emrick to win the Emmy for best play-by-play announcer. Emrick seemed to win this category every year. Former NFL linebacker Emmanuel Acho, who may replace Chris Harrison as the host of ABC’s “Bachelor/Bachelorette” franchise, was named the inaugural winner for the Emerging Talent Emmy. Tom Seaver, who did some baseball TV work after he retired as a pitcher, was honored in the “in memoriam” montage.
Noah Eagle, the son of sportscasting icon and Forest Hills High School alum Ian Eagle, will be part of NBC’s Olympics broadcasting team in Tokyo this summer. He will be handling play-by-play chores for the 3-on-3 basketball competition, which is making its Olympics debut. Noah was the chief sportscaster on Nickelodeon’s premiere NFL telecast, a playoff game between the Chicago Bears and the New Orleans Saints at the New Orleans Superdome last January. That broadcast was also awarded an Emmy last Tuesday.
If you want to see terrific surfing amateurs compete on soft boards (as opposed to the more familiar wooden ones), the Red Bull Foam Wreckers Soft-Top Surfing Classic will be taking place Saturday, June 26, in the New Jersey coastal resort town of Long Beach Island.
CBS Sports has created a new motor sports enterprise, Superstar Racing Experience, to compete with NASCAR, Formula 1 and the Indy Racing League. SRX debuted on the Tiffany Network last Saturday night with a race from Connecticut’s Stafford Motor Speedway. A Milford, Conn. native, Doug Cody, crossed under the checkered flag first ahead of such legendary drivers as 2021 Indy 500 winner Helio Castroneves, Tony Stewart, Tony Kanaan, Bobby Labonte and African-American racing pioneer Willy T. Ribbs.
The New York Daily News’s main NFL writer, Pat Leonard, and ESPN’s Pablo S. Torre both reported former Jets and current Carolina Panthers QB Sam Darnold has refused to get a Covid-19 vaccination. Darnold’s hesitancy is because he doesn’t know what effect it would have on him.
Torre, in his ESPN podcast last week, spoke about how Darnold, like most NFL players, has probably taken more than his share of painkillers to be able to suit up and never worried about the chemical contents. He also points out Darnold will not be able to play if he tests positive for the virus even if he is asymptomatic.
A quarterback is supposed to be a leader of a team, and this is not what I call leading by example. Then again, I always thought Darnold was a bit of a dunce given his mumbling cliched answers at his postgame press conferences, so I am not surprised.
World Wrestling Entertainment has long been a television fixture as its Monday night “Raw” on USA Network and Friday night’s “SmackDown” on Fox have always drawn very respectable ratings. Baby boomers who grew up watching pro wrestling in the 1970s and its 1980s glory days and may only occasionally watch it now are likely not familiar with today’s grapplers, while younger people may have no idea about the WWE’s legendary stars from yesteryear.
“The WWE Superstar Handbook” from DK Publishing attempts to bridge the generations by presenting short bios and photos of past and current wrestling personalities. Author Jake Black does a fairly good job here but there are notable omissions such as Ted “The Million Dollar Man” DiBiase and ’70s Russian villain and former champ Ivan Koloff. At least Black did not forget Koloff’s successor, the far more entertaining Nikolai Volkoff, who would enter the ring carrying the Soviet Union flag and use his operatic voice to sing its national anthem. He would end his bit by screaming into the microphone, “Russia No. 1!”
WWE CEO Vince McMahon has taken pride in expanding his wrestling empire into nontraditional places. A case in point is “The Official WWE Cookbook,” written by Allison Robicelli and published by Insight Editions. Robicelli has fun with wrestlers’ names and catchphrases. Among the recipes she has created are “Nacho Man” Randy Savage nachos, Mick Foley guacamole, Andre the Gyro, Brutus the Barber beef cakes, and Stone Cold Steve Austin’s “oh hell yams.”
Life and style
Another sign New York City is returning to normal has been the return of the Tribeca Film Festival. A documentary making its debut at the TFF is “KISStory.” Band members, led by Jackson Heights’ own Gene Simmons and Flushing’s Paul Stanley, discuss the band’s longevity. “KISStory” is slated to air on cable’s A&E later this month.
The Beach Boys is a rock group that has been around even longer than KISS. In fact, 2021 marks their 60th anniversary. The band’s chief composer, producer and frequent lead vocalist, Brian Wilson, is the subject of a new documentary, “Long Promised Road,” which also debuted at Tribeca. Wilson, who makes no secret of his mental demons, is in good spirits as he converses about music and life with his buddy, Rolling Stone writer Jason Fine, as they drive around Los Angeles. The co-star of “Long Promised Road” is Wilson’s favorite restaurant, the Beverly Glen Deli, where the two spend a lot of time when not tooling around town.