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Carroll’s Column: What’s Better than a Saturday Matinee?

Stadium/Citi Field
Image Credit: Henry Ordosgoitia (Henry O.)/Latino Sports

NEW YORK — With Super Bowl LVIII in the rear view, concluding the NFL 2023-2024 season this past Sunday night in Las Vegas, Nevada, Major League Baseball now becomes front and center in fan-excitement and anticipation with Spring Training right around the corner. And for those keeping track, we are less than 45 days away from Opening Day… 

The Mets have done little to bridge the talent gap between the Atlanta Braves, the Philadelphia Phillies, and themselves this off-season which has led to some rumblings in their fan base. The Mets did make one smart decision, however. Last week they announced all Saturday games at Citi Field for the first two months of the 2024 season.      

White Sox vs. Mets at Citi Field in July of 2023 – Image Credit: Latino Sports

Saturday matinees were a Major League Baseball staple for generations. In recent years however, with cable and national television networks being in charge, Saturday games have been pushed to either late afternoon or evening. TV executives believed those timeslots generated better ratings, and they could charge more for commercial airtime.    

The Yankees, to their immense credit, have never wavered in scheduling the lion’s share of their Saturday games for early afternoon. The Mets, however, have had most of their Saturday games start at 7 PM for the past 25 years.  

A Saturday Matinee at Yankee Stadium – Image Credit: Bill Menzel/Latino Sports

Even with the effects of global warming, early spring evenings can be cold and damp, which are not exactly ideal conditions for spectators to enjoy watching games. Day games offer warmer temperatures which make things more pleasant for fans from late March through late May. A nice day means more box office business.  

Saturday matinees are an ideal time for families to come to the ballpark. I fondly remember learning about baseball from my dad taking to Saturday games at Shea Stadium. I speak for many of us who are over forty.     

There are also convenience and safety issues to consider. Mass transit does not operate as frequently on weekends. Service is even more diminished on weekend nights. Older drivers frequently think twice about getting behind the wheel at night, compared with daytime when visibility is better, and there is less concern about glare from incoming headlights.      

Behind Home Plate at Citi Field – Image Credit: Latino Sports

The time change should please visiting teams as well. Managers and coaches, as well some players, have told me over the years they are frustrated they rarely get a chance to enjoy the things which make New York City special, such as its incredible theater. Saturday matinees at Citi Field would give them a chance to catch Broadway shows which begin at 8PM.      

Billy Eppler served as Mets general manager from 2021 until the end of 2023. He resigned when word filtered out MLB was investigating him for improper placement of players on the injured list. On Friday, MLB commissioner Rob Manfred announced Eppler is suspended from baseball for the entire 2024 season. 

Mets former GM Billy Eppler and former manager Buck Showalter – Image Credit: NY Post

Even if the allegations are true, he surely isn’t the only sports executive to try to create roster flexibility without the risk of losing a player through waivers. Manfred did not provide examples of Eppler’s violations. 

I believe Eppler is being treated too harshly. Losing his job with the Mets was punishment enough.

Will the Athletics stay in Oakland or head to Vegas? 

Most state and city political leaders would jump through hoops and pay a king’s ransom to land a professional sports team, especially a Major League Baseball franchise. That is why you must admire Las Vegas mayor Carolyn Goodman who told Oakland Athletics owner John Fisher he should consider keeping his team in Oakland after Major League Baseball approved a move of the team to Sin City.     

Oakland Coliseum – Image Credit: NBC/MLB

Goodman claims she is not against the A’s coming to Las Vegas, but she opposes building a stadium on the site of the Tropicana Hotel. The Las Vegas Strip has enough traffic as is, and a baseball stadium would exacerbate that problem.      

I have a feeling Goodman is being diplomatic. She is aware of Fisher’s penurious reputation. He has refused to invest in Major League Baseball-caliber talent and has profited by taking his pro rata slice of MLB television and merchandise revenue. Attendance has understandably plummeted in Oakland. Goodman does not want to have to deal with an owner who takes and never gives. Her city’s economy has enough going for it, as this year’s Super Bowl exemplifies, without a second-rate baseball team. 

NHL set for 2024 Winter Series at MetLife Stadium 

The National Hockey League will smartly be promoting its four franchises which play within a 100-mile radius of Queens this weekend with its two-day Stadium Series being held at MetLife Stadium. On Saturday evening, the Philadelphia Flyers will take the short trip up the NJ Turnpike to take on the New Jersey Devils. The next afternoon the Rangers and the Islanders will renew their rivalry, but it will mark the first time they have done so outdoors.      

Image Credit: SportsNet

The Rangers, under former Islanders head coach, Peter Laviolette, are playing very well, and have a legitimate shot at winning their first Stanley Cup in 30 years. The Islanders have been invigorated ever since general manager Lou Lamoriello replaced Lane Lambert with Patrick Roy as the team’s head coach.  

MSG Network’s Mike Breen and Walt “Clyde” Frazier celebrate 25 years behind the mic together + more on Knicks

MSG Network’s Knicks broadcasting tandem of Mike Breen and Walt “Clyde” Frazier just marked their 25th anniversary of working together. Their chemistry has always been incredibly good, even when the Knicks haven’t been. They are clearly relishing the Knicks’ success after so many down years.  

The NBA All-Star Game could not have come at a better time for the Knicks. It gives time for Jalen Brunson, Julius Randle, Isaiah Hartenstein, and OG Anunoby to recover from injuries of various degrees and be ready for the stretch run.

Apple TV debuts ten-part documentary “The Dynasty: The New England Patriots”  this Friday

Apple TV Plus will be debuting a ten-part documentary “The Dynasty: The New England Patriots” this Friday. Team owner Robert Kraft, former head coach Bill Belichick, and of course, QB Tom Brady, offer extensive commentary. It would be fun if the producers were able to get New York Jets owner Woody Johnson on camera. Johnson’s Jets were Elmer Fudd to the Patriots’ Bugs Bunny.     

“Thank You, Goodnight: The Bon Jovi Story” available on Hulu this April 

Hulu will be presenting “Thank You, Goodnight: The Bon Jovi Story” in April. The four-part documentary will focus on the difficulties of the band over its 40-year history, especially the contentious relationship between the group’s two principals, guitarists Jon Bon Jovi and Richie Sambora.

I hope the producers have a clip of the Garden State Parkway’s Cheesequake rest stop being renamed in Jon Bon Jovi’s honor in 2021. He grew up in nearby Sayreville. 

Not Gonged! 

Baby boomers will fondly remember the wacky late 1970s NBC daytime amateur talent show, “The Gong Show,” which was hosted and run by the legendary Chuck Barris. The fun was watching the terrible acts whose performances would immediately be halted when one of the trio panelist judges hit the gong behind them. “Gong This Book! The Uncensored History of Television’s Wildest Show” (Bear Manor Media) written by TV game show historian, and researcher for Rochester’s Strong National Museum of Play, Adam Nedeff, is a brilliant and detailed recollection.     

Nedeff interviews surviving “Gong Show” regulars Jamie Farr and Murray “The Unknown Comic” Langston, as well as acts who appeared on it. It is unfortunate Nedeff was unable to speak with the show’s most outrageous panelist, Jaye P. Morgan. And yes, Nedeff devotes plenty of pages to the pair of girls who called themselves “Got A Nickel?” They generated national attention when they sat on the stage floor licking a popsicle in a salacious manner. They were not gonged!

NY NOW, Winter Show at Javits Center

NY NOW, the semi-annual trade show devoted to crafts, is celebrating its centennial. The winter show just concluded at Javits Center, and the fastest-growing exhibitor segment was in the wellness industry. 

New Wellness Companies at NY NOW

Zenyaah is an aroma therapy candle company founded by Elmhurst native and Floral Park resident Sona Brahmbhatt. She told me her candles do not even have to be lit to create a lasting fragrance for those who understandably worry about the risk of fire. Another new company, That Good Good Shea Butter, is a chemical-free cream which heals inflamed and chapped areas, which is common during the winter and early spring. The company’s repeat use of the word “good” in its name shows a playful sense of humor. It is also a smart mnemonic device.

You can read more of Lloyd Carroll’s columns posted weekly on The Queens Chronicle.

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