Last week’s pair of Subway Series victories for the Mets at the expense of the Yankees may be just two games out of the 162-game schedule, but they carry a lot more weight than that small sampling size would indicate. The Yankees have been a baseball powerhouse over the last 25 years, as well as being a crosstown rival for the Mets.
Beating the Yankees was a confidence booster for the Mets, especially since they were swept four games earlier in the season by the Houston Astros, who always seems to bedevil both New York baseball teams.
Taijuan Walker was the winning pitcher in last Tuesday’s 6-3 win over the Bronx Bombers despite yielding first-inning home runs to Aaron Judge and Anthony Rizzo. Aside from enhancing his popularity with Mets fans by defeating the Yankees, this was an important victory for Walker because it came after the All-Star Game.
TBS announcer and Astoria native Bob Costas informed a national audience about Walker’s Jekyll and Hyde 2021 season. Walker had a stellar first half in 2021 and was named to the National League All-Star team.
He was quite fatigued in the second half, however, and compiled a disastrous 0-8 record. It was a key reason the Mets fell out of the playoff race and why Luis Rojas was fired as the team’s manager.
“I am well aware of what happened in 2021 and I am determined not to have history repeat itself,” Walker told me when I chatted with him in the Mets dugout before a game last month. He conceded he did not have the stamina he needed for the second half of the 2021 season because he missed most of the 2020 season recovering from a variety of injuries. He is in better shape this year. He should also benefit from not being named to the 2022 All-Star team because he was able to get five days of needed rest.
Relief pitcher Seth Lugo has had his difficulties this year but he showed grit last Wednesday night, getting five outs over the eighth and ninth innings as he got the win. “I will be a free agent at the end of the season, and I know how important my performance in the second half of this season will be to my future in baseball,” he told me right after the All-Star Game break.
As exhilarating as the two wins over the Yankees were for the Mets, they pale in comparison to the five games the Mets have with the Atlanta Braves starting tonight. Last year the Mets had a similar five-game series with the Braves in July. The then-struggling Braves won three of the five games which encouraged Braves GM Alex Anthopoulos to make trades at the deadline. The rest, as they say, is history.
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The death of Boston Celtics legend Bill Russell at age 88 this past Sunday stirred a lot of memories for baby boomers. I remember how he famously refused to sign autographs for fans. While that would make him seem like an arrogant, ungrateful athlete, it was in fact the opposite. Russell said he was more than glad to talk with fans and shake their hands. He thought the concept of autographs put him on a higher plane than the person requesting them, and he felt that to be needlessly demeaning. He did not feel celebrity, and the wealth which accompanies that, made him a better person in society.
Former Mets manager Terry Collins joined Howie Rose in the broadcast booth in Miami over the weekend when the Mets took on the Marlins. Collins has teamed with Rose before, and their chemistry is superb. They are excellent conversationalists, whether it be talking about the advent of pitch clocks or discussing the merits of the infield shift. Here is hoping we get to hear more of them as the playoff race heats up.
Food trucks have been popular in cities for years. The Mets and their soft drink sponsor, Coca-Cola, have brought a food truck into the team’s Coca-Cola Corner, which will promote the cuisine of local dining establishments. The first local partner was Whitestone’s Utopia Bagels.
SiriusXM’s Chris “Mad Dog” Russo and Yankees radio analyst Suzyn Waldman will both be inducted into the Radio Hall of Fame in Chicago on Nov. 1. Others who will be joining them are WCBS-FM’s “Broadway” Bill Lee, Walt “Baby” Love, who patrolled the airwaves for WOR-FM and WXLO in the 1970s and ’80s, and veteran New York rock air personality, and Flushing native, Carol Miller.
Former CNN air personality and Hollis native Chris Cuomo was the interview guest on HBO’s “Real Time with Bill Maher” last Friday. Cuomo made an interesting sports analogy about people whose political beliefs make them blind and deaf to other viewpoints, or to the facts on the ground. “I get it. I am a huge Jets fan even though they always stink!” He mentioned how excited he gets when he hears about how the team has drafted talented players or signed a top-tier free agent. And yet, they still lose far more than they win.
Speaking of the Jets, they will be having their annual Green & White Scrimmage this Saturday night at MetLife Stadium. Admission is free. When the Jets moved their headquarters to Florham Park, NJ, their management promised to hold this practice at their old home, Hofstra University. They did so for a few years, but the Jets no longer travel to Long Island. Perhaps it’s the tolls.
Life and style
Ken Burns will be returning to PBS next month with a three-part documentary, “The U.S. and the Holocaust.” Burns promises to give definitive evidence the United States did not do all it could to save lives when it had chances to do so.
On a lighter note, the life of the man who brought the Brazilian bossa nova sound to the United States in the mid-1960s, a time rock music was dominating the pop charts, Sergio Mendes, is told in a new documentary, “Sergio Mendes in the Key of Joy.” If you know about current pop star Shawn Mendes, but never heard of Sergio, then you should make it your business to watch this. It is airing on the Peacock streaming service.