Category Archives: Live Mike

NOT TO BAD

Column: Live Mic

Sports Editor Mike Smith is starting to get worried about a bet he made with some friends prior to the baseball season. If he loses, he will have to preform five minutes of standup comedy in a room full of strangers. Photo courtesy metrocreativeconnection.com

Sports Editor Mike Smith is starting to get worried about a bet he made with some friends prior to the baseball season. If he loses, he will have to preform five minutes of standup comedy in a room full of strangers. Photo courtesy metrocreativeconnection.com

My Red Sox might not be lighting the world on fire this year, but you can be sure I tuned into the action when they hosted the Yankees last weekend for a three-game set.

Now yes, the Sox had been better as of late, coming into the series just five games behind the Bombers on the year.

Of course, they returned to form, dropping two games to their perennial foes.

But my interest in this series went far beyond my desire to see the Old Towne Team cut into the Yanks’ lead in the American League East.

There’s a lot riding on this; in fact, the entire comedy world hangs in the balance.

Prior to the start of the MLB season, three friends and I (two of us are Sox fans, the other two support the Yanks) made a friendly wager. The parameters of the bet were simple: if the Red Sox win the season series against the Yankees, the two losers of the bet will be forced to perform five minutes of standup comedy at an open mic somewhere in New York City.

If the Yanks win? It looks like I’m going to have to channel my inner Seinfeld.

Now, as a devoted reader of my column, you may already know that I am not, by any objective sense of the word, funny. And you don’t know the half of it.

I wouldn’t call my fear of public speaking “crippling,” but the fact remains that if you put me in front of an audience, shove a microphone in my hand and ask me to speak extemporaneously, bad things tend to happen.

When I was in college, I served as the rush chairman for my fraternity. During the rush process—the time of year when it was my job to ostensibly recruit new members into our organization—I was forced to give a speech to a lecture hall of around 180 first-year students.

It did not go well.

I caught the eye of one of my brothers in the audience and immediately was struck with a case of what scientists call “the giggles.” And boy, did I lose it. About two minutes into my speech, my notes were all but forgotten as my head was down on the wooden lectern at the front of the auditorium. I was laughing uncontrollably, my face red, shoulders heaving as I tried desperately to stop chuckling and finish my presentation.

I did not manage to make it through my speech, but I did have to answer several questions from college administrators who were convinced that I was on something. Suffice it to say, I’ve done my best to avoid such situations since.

Until this bet, that is.

On the surface, it seemed like a sure thing. The Sox retooled the offense this offseason, the Yanks seemed to be mired in uncertainty and I was beyond sure that we’d have the Yankees’ number this year. The chance to beat the Yanks and watch two of my closest buddies squirm their way through an uncomfortable set at the ChuckleHut? That’s a win-win in my book.

Fast-forward to July, and the Yanks are up six games to three on the last place Sox. After last weekend, just 10 games remain between the two teams. A Boston sweep could buy me a little breathing room for the time being. If the Yanks roll, I’d better start listening to old George Carlin bits.

So I urge everyone, regardless of your personal rooting interests, to pull for the Red Sox these next few months.

Not for my sake, but for comedy’s.

Don’t let the laughter die on my watch.

 

Follow Mike on Twitter @LiveMike_Sports.

 
NOT TO BAD

Column: Cup runneth over

On July 5, the U.S. women’s team brought home the World Cup. Sports Editor Mike Smith couldn’t have picked a better way to cap off his July 4 weekend. Photo courtesy fifa.com

On July 5, the U.S. women’s team brought home the World Cup. Sports Editor Mike Smith couldn’t have picked a better way to cap off his July 4 weekend. Photo courtesy fifa.com

I don’t care how many burgers you grilled, how many hot dogs you ate or how many fireworks you set off this past weekend, your celebration of this nation’s birthday had nothing on the play of the U.S. Women’s National Soccer Team.

On July 5, just one day after the rest of us reveled in the anniversary of our nation’s independence, the USWNT gave us another reason to cheer—four of ‘em in about 20 minutes—as they steamrolled past Japan to win the 2015 FIFA Women’s World Cup.

It was a rare type of soccer match—the one that opens with an outburst of scoring and is all but decided around 25 minutes in—which lent the proceedings an air of a prolonged celebration. As fans, we spent much of the second half all but assured of victory as our players took what amounted to a 65-minute victory lap.

It was very “American,” indeed.

I would argue that, with the success of our women’s team over the last 20 years or so, that they are our “real” national soccer team rather than their counterparts on the men’s side. You could argue that men’s sports, historically, have a much higher profile in this country, but when it comes to soccer, I’m not so sure that’s the case. According to some early metrics, the July 5 World Cup finals was the highest rated soccer match in US television history, putting all men’s games to shame.

But what is it about this team that caught the nation’s attention?

First of all, they’ve got talent. That’s the most important thing. We’ve seen these women play on the highest stage. We’ve seen what they’re capable of. And we knew that, if we got a few breaks along the way, we’d be in the finals.

But secondly, they have been able, more so than the men, to market the female athletes.

From aging stars like Abby Wambach and Christie Rampone—who have been fixtures on the national team for nearly two decades—making one last World Cup go-around, to talented-yet-troubled keeper Hope Solo on a tour of personal—and professional—redemption, there were so many compelling storylines that even a casual sports fans found themselves getting sucked in.

There will be countless articles written this week about what this win means for women’s soccer—both in our country and abroad—and where this particular team ranks in the annals of soccer lore. But for now, the only thing that matters is that we, the U.S. of A, are No. 1.

Happy fourth, you guys.

 

Follow Mike on Twitter @LiveMike_Sports

 
NOT TO BAD

Column: A league of its own

Over the next few weeks, local little leaguers will look to represent their towns in the District 20 tournament.

Over the next few weeks, local little leaguers will look to represent their towns in the District 20 tournament.

As we head into the dog days of summer, it’s just about time for one of my favorite—and least favorite—stories of the year to begin: the Little League tournament.

Earlier this week, the brackets went up for the local Little League tournaments, from the 9 and 10 year old baseball and softball teams to the 11 and 12 year old squads hoping to make their way to the grand stage at Williamsport, Pa.

On the surface, this is a great and exciting time.

I can remember the days when I was 11 and 12, just wishing that I would someday get the chance to take the field at Lamade Stadium, representing my country and being beamed into millions of households across the world on ESPN.

I would spend the summer traveling around the country, playing baseball with my best friends in the world, then return home to a hero’s welcome—and maybe a quick kiss on the cheek or two from the obviously impressed females in my class.

The Little League District 20 tournament kicks off this week, and local little leaguers have visions of Williamsport, Pa., in their heads.

The Little League District 20 tournament kicks off this week, and local little leaguers have visions of Williamsport, Pa., in their heads.

Unfortunately, my lack of talent—coupled with the lack of a Little League organization in Scarsdale—would conspire to keep this dream from coming true, but to this day, I can’t watch a televised Little League game without imagining how awesome it would be to have been a part of it.

However, that audience, and that medium comes with its own set of drawbacks.

I remember how seriously I took myself—and baseball—at 12 years old. I was known to throw my bat and sulk after a strikeout in meaningless rec league games at that age; I can’t imagine how much pressure I would have put on myself knowing that the eyes of the sporting world were upon me.

Indeed, some of the most indelible images from the Little League World Series come not from celebrations, but from the anguish of defeat. In particular, I will always remember Long Beach’s Sean Burroughs, who would later play in the Major Leagues, laying face down on the field, weeping, as a team from the Philippines celebrated its title on the field.

Of course, that win by the Philippines would later be vacated due to the team’s use of illegal players, which brings me to my next problem with the Little League World Series: the adults.

As long as we have youth sports, some adults are going find a way to mess things up. The Philippines in 1992, Rolando Paulino Little League in 2000, Jackie Robinson West, just last year; the behind-the-scenes maneuvering of a few shady individuals sucks the fun out of things for everyone. But even if that is the exception, rather than the rule, you know how the saying goes about a few apples who are really 17 years old and throwing 93 mph two-seamers, right?

Ultimately, there’s a lot of good in the Little League tournament. The road to Williamsport is filled with wonderful stories like the emergence of Mo’ne Davis, or the inspiring speech that Rhode Island coach Dave Belisle gave to his team after its hard-fought 8-7 elimination loss last year.

An Eastchester little leaguer tries to make a leaping catch during last year’s District 20 tournament. Photos/Mike Smith

An Eastchester little leaguer tries to make a leaping catch during last year’s District 20 tournament. Photos/Mike Smith

It’s these moments that represent the best of what Little League has to offer. Let’s hope we see some more this summer.

 

Follow Mike on Twitter @LiveMike_Sports

 

NOT TO BAD

Column: The sport of kings?

On June 6, American Pharaoh captured racing’s first Triple Crown since 1978. Sport Editor Mike Smith remained unimpressed, however. Photo courtesy Wikipedia.com

On June 6, American Pharaoh captured racing’s first Triple Crown since 1978. Sport Editor Mike Smith remained unimpressed, however. Photo courtesy Wikipedia.com

My apologies to anyone who considers themselves to be a fan of horseracing, but to be perfectly honest, I don’t give a fig about the sport.

On Saturday, after American Pharaoh became the first horse since 1978 to win the coveted Triple Crown, the sports world was abuzz with news about the thoroughbred. Clearly, we were dealing with a momentous occasion, a historic race and a legendary horse.

And I couldn’t have cared less.

I’m not exactly a newcomer to the world of horseracing either. I’ve been to the Preakness twice, the Belmont Stakes three times, and when I was in college, I spent quite a bit of time betting on the ponies at the classiest off-track betting site in central Pennsylvania.

I even remember my first-ever winning bet, when I was just 10 years old in Saratoga, N.Y. The horse? Wild Irishman. The jockey? Mike Smith. So why didn’t I watch one second of the race to the Triple Crown this year?

It’s tough to say.

I think it comes down to personality. When I don’t have a vested interest in who wins or who loses, I approach sporting contests from a reporter’s mindset. What are the storylines coming in? For example, the NBA Finals this year are a matchup between an unstoppable juggernaut from the west and a depleted Cavs’ team that just so happens to employ the best basketball player on the planet. Will the Warriors’ depth prove the difference? Can Lebron take his squad full of castoffs all the way? What would a Cavs’ win mean for King James’ larger legacy?

These are the questions that keep me captivated.

As for horseracing, more often than not, it just comes down to which horse happens to be the fastest on a particular day.

I know there’s more to it than that. The racing world is filled with colorful characters, from jockeys to owners, and the sport itself was once extremely important in our sporting culture, especially in the first half of the 20th century. But frankly, I’ve always found attempts to personalize the horses themselves as a desperate way to pull viewers in, and it’s never something I’ve understood.

Maybe it’s just that I’m not a big “animal”, guy. Maybe I just don’t know the sport well enough. But when I can’t buy in to an athletes’ backstory, I just have a hard time caring who wins.

So yes, we all witnessed a piece of sporting history on June 6. American Pharaoh’s name will go down in the books alongside other four-legged legends like Secretariat and Seattle Slew. And while racing enthusiasts will forever utter his name with reverent tones, to me, it’s just another race at Belmont Park.

 

Follow Mike on Twitter @LiveMike_Sports

 
NOT TO BAD

Column: The real beauty of sports

Byram Hills celebrates its Class A title win over Rye on May 30. The Bobcats beat the Garnets 4-3.

Byram Hills celebrates its Class A title win over Rye on May 30. The Bobcats beat the Garnets 4-3.

livemike3

Rye Neck fans line the field to congratulate the Panthers on a Class B title win at North Rockland High School. Photos/Mike Smith

It’s a good thing I had to work on Saturday, because if I didn’t I was planning to spend most of the day, in bed, ruminating about the Game 7 stinker the Rangers put forth the night before.

But I had a full slate of championship games on the docket, which was good enough to get me out of the house. But in addition to some sunshine, I got something a little more valuable.

Perspective.

I could sit and wax poetic about the anguish of a sports fan, but on Saturday, up in North Rockland, I got the chance to see first-hand the emotional impact of real athletic competition.

It’s easy to talk about a fan’s devotion to a professional sports team, but on May 30, I got a nice little reminder of just how important sports can be, not only to those who play it, but to the families of those players as well.

I watched four games on the day—one at North Rockland High School and three at Provident Bank Park—and each game was a tempest of emotion; joy, relief, despair and resignation, the very best—and worst—that sports can make one feel.

There were some wonderful moments out there on the field.

Rye Neck softball coach Joan Spedafino collecting herself on the bench as her team celebrated its first section title since 2002 before joining them in the wild jubilee, Mamaroneck catcher Andy Karlan bringing the Tiger faithful to their feet after legging out a lead-off triple. These are the indelible moments of sports—when the moment bubbles over and becomes more than just another athletic event.

But there was a certain beauty in the sadder moments as well.

After battling Albertus Magnus through 14 innings of baseball in the Class B finals, Keio’s title hopes were dashed when Unicorns pitcher Masayoshi Shimojima walked in the winning run.

Shimojima fell to his knees on the mound as his teammates converged to lift him up and console him. The Unicorns then lined up behind home plate as their captain addressed the hundreds of fans that came out to cheer them on, fighting back tears as he delivered his heartfelt message.

It was impossible not to empathize with those kids in that moment. They left everything on the field, and although they didn’t win, they earned the respect of everyone in the building that day.

And that’s what sports are about, at their best.

It’s not about the fans that don a lucky jersey a couple of times a year and scream at professional athletes on their flat-screen televisions. It’s about the work that goes in to
reaching goals as a team; the blood, the sweat, and—sometimes—the tears you shed along the way.

So while I offer my congratulations to our teams that persevered in their quest for section titles, I also want to thank the teams that fell just short.

They say you learn more from your failures than your successes. But after seeing the things I saw last Saturday, it’s hard to find any real losers at all.

 

Follow Mike on Twitter @LiveMike_Sports  

 
NOT TO BAD

Column: That Game 7 mojo

Sports Editor Mike Smith is planning to break out his lucky Jeff Beukeboom jersey for the Rangers’ Game 7 on Friday night. He’s hoping he hasn’t washed all the good luck out of it yet. Photo/Mike Smith

Sports Editor Mike Smith is planning to break out his lucky Jeff Beukeboom jersey for the Rangers’ Game 7 on Friday night. He’s hoping he hasn’t washed all the good luck out of it yet. Photo/Mike Smith

The New York Rangers’ one-sided win over the Lightning on May 26 means quite a few things. Most importantly, it means the Blueshirts have staved off elimination and will be playing at least one more game at Madison Square Garden this year. Secondly, it means that it’s not quite time for me to stick my lucky Jeff Beukeboom sweater in the closet for the summer just yet.

What many Ranger fans don’t realize is that behind the Rangers’ latest streak of six straight Game 7 wins isn’t just the Blueshirts’ poise or Henrik Lundqvist’s stellar big-game play in net. The most important piece of the puzzle is that a 30-year-old sportswriter from Westchester remembers to slide on the jersey of a man who hasn’t played for New York since 1999 right before the opening faceoff in order to get the mojo working just right for a do-or-die elimination game.  

Okay, I get that it sounds silly, but you can’t argue with the results can you?

And I’m sure that if you polled the majority of sports fans in the area, at least 75 percent of them would have their own in-game rituals that have contributed to some pretty big wins over the years.

It’s tough to tell where this stuff starts. For me, at least, the idea of good-luck routines and superstition came from reading the stacks of books containing baseball factoids that populated my room in my youth. I would read about how Wade Boggs ate chicken before every game, or how Mo Vaughn would put his uniform on left-side first (left leg through the hole, right leg through the hole, etc.) to get ready for big games.

In an effort to emulate my favorite stars, I too began to develop pregame rituals. Sure, I couldn’t get dressed like Big Mo (I had a hard enough time not putting my pants on backwards, after all) but I found my own things; Jolt Cola before I pitched, Starbursts before football games, refusing to wash my socks when I was going through a hot-streak; these may not have been the healthiest superstitions, but they brought me some sense of control before big games, which I guess was the point.

Somewhere along the way, I just couldn’t keep up with my neuroses in my own sports career. For one thing, they discontinued Jolt Cola—probably because one bottle has enough caffeine in it to induce temporary ADD. But I transferred all this weird juju stuff into my sports fandom. For Giants games, I always don the jersey of a former Big Blue fullback like Jim Finn or Madison Hedgecock. For Red Sox playoff games, I break out my old college jersey (which I wore throughout the Sox’ miraculous comeback against the Yanks in 2004). For the Rangers, in Game 7s, it’s the Buekeboom road whites.

So I’ll break it out again on Friday, hoping that there’s enough magic left in its increasingly ragged threads to push the Rangers to the Stanley Cup Finals.

If anyone’s got a line on a case of Jolt, let me know—just in case.

 

Follow Mike on Twitter @LiveMike_Sports 

 
Last week, Sports Editor Mike Smith took a break from screaming at his television by himself and opted to watch the Rangers’ Game 7 showdown with the Capitals at a sports bar. At the very least, he found the chance to scream at the television with other people a refreshing experience. File photo

Column: The big game atmosphere

Last week, Sports Editor Mike Smith took a break from screaming at his television by himself and opted to watch the Rangers’ Game 7 showdown with the Capitals at a sports bar. At the very least, he found the chance to scream at the television with other people a refreshing experience. File photo

Last week, Sports Editor Mike Smith took a break from screaming at his television by himself and opted to watch the Rangers’ Game 7 showdown with the Capitals at a sports bar. At the very least, he found the chance to scream at the television with other people a refreshing experience. File photo

It may surprise you, but I’m not a very social person. Given the choice, I’d take a quiet night in over a raging party almost any night of the week.

As I’ve established in this column, I’m also pretty superstitious when it comes to my sports teams. But against my better judgment last week, I found myself out at a bar, cheering on the Rangers in their Game 7 matchup against the Capitals.

Hindsight being 20/20, I think I made the right decision.

If you’ve ever watched a sporting event with me—especially once the postseason is in full swing—you would know that I’m not a real joy to be around. I squirm on the couch, pace around my living room and offer constant vocal feedback to my television, much to the chagrin, I’d assume, of my poor neighbors.

For the sake of my own sanity—and to ensure the cops weren’t called to my residence May 13—I decided to change things up, to go out and watch the game among other Ranger fans at Mickey Spillane’s in Eastchester.

I donned my trusty “Game 7 Only” Jeff Beukeboom throwback, headed down to the pub, hoping that the fact that I was around, you know, other human beings, might entice me to act like less of a sports-addled weirdo than I might if left to my own devices.

I’d forgotten one thing, however, and that was that just about everyone at the bar was as crazy as I was.

And that’s what made the whole thing great. People hunkered down in their booths or leaning nervously on the bar, groaning in relief at each magnificent Henrik Lundqvist save or screaming at Martin St. Louis every time he couldn’t quite control the puck on his stick.

When Derek Stepan buried the game-winner in overtime to send the Rangers to the conference finals, the place erupted in wild displays of unbridled joy. Strangers hugging strangers, grown men hopping on one foot like a kid who just found out he’s getting that trip to Disney World. Half the people there couldn’t even form complete sentences, which speaks more to the power of sports than to the strength of Spillane’s concoctions.

It was a wild scene, for sure, and one that has me rethinking my policy to watch games alone.

Sports are a group experience, an outlet for pride in one’s community. Even if I’ve had to suffer in relative loneliness being a Red Sox fan in New York for the past few years, I realized last week that there’s no shortage of people in town who share my love for the Blueshirts.

At the very least, I know where I’m watching the rest of the playoffs.

I’m sure my neighbors will thank me.

 

Follow Mike on Twitter @LiveMike_Sports

 
NOT TO BAD

Column: Deflate-great!

On May 10, Tom Brady was given a four-game suspension for his “probable” role in the Deflategate scandal. Sports Editor Mike Smith actually thinks the NFL got this one right. Photo/Mike Smith

On May 10, Tom Brady was given a four-game suspension for his “probable” role in the Deflategate scandal. Sports Editor Mike Smith actually thinks the NFL got this one right. Photo/Mike Smith

“More probable than not.”

In the grand scheme of things—or in a court of law—those four words aren’t too damning. But as they relate to Tom Brady’s part in “Deflategate,” they’re more than powerful enough to ensure that the golden boy gets his just deserts.

Last week, an NFL-sponsored report into the Patriots’ ball-deflating scandal revealed that a pair of New England employees, John Jastremski and Jim McNally, knowingly tampered with official NFL game balls. Brady, it was surmised, more than likely told them to do it. The result was a four-game ban for the four-time Super Bowl winner.

I feel weird typing this, but I think the NFL got this one right.

Sure the league is going to take heat—both for the investigation and the suspension. Patriots’ fans are already calling this a witch-hunt, a concentrated effort by Commissioner Roger Goodell to bring down the most visible franchise in the sport (that just happens to be controlled by his good friend, Robert Kraft). New Englanders are blaming everyone from Andrew Luck to Chris Christie and little green moon men—everyone but Brady—for what’s happening.

Even those who celebrated the findings of the report—mostly Jets fans—can’t seem to agree on the league’s next step. Was four games too much? Was four games too little? Former Baltimore Raven Ray Rice only got two games, and what he did was much worse than deflating some footballs, right?

Well, at least to me, four games seem perfect.

No, Brady’s crime wasn’t on par with some of the off-the-field issues, most notably domestic violence, which the NFL has been dealing with lately. He’s not a monster, he doesn’t need jail time. At the same time, this was a calculated, underhanded tactic, which common sense dictates that he clearly had a hand in. What’s worse, it’s something that directly affects the competitive balance on which the sport is built.

And for those who bring Rice’s initial suspension into question, I ask you this; isn’t the league supposed to learn from its past mistakes?

At the very least it forces us, as fans, to have another discussion on how we feel about teams trying to gain a competitive edge. Where does deflategate rank with spygate? Or bountygate?

Pats fans will tell you—if you can get them to admit that the balls were even deflated—that this is akin to Gaylord Perry making a Hall of Fame career out of coating baseballs with various substances on the mound to fool hitters.

But it’s not, really.

Perry is often celebrated, and rightly so, for his guile on the mound. He was cheating in broad daylight, and if you don’t agree with what he was doing, at least you could respect the hustle. But McNally and Jastremski were operating in a small restroom in the bowels of Gillette Stadium, away from prying eyes, and that makes this whole plot more sinister—at least
in my eyes.

Take it from someone who’s been to his fair share of NFL stadiums; those bathrooms are already shady enough.

 

Follow Mike on Twitter @LiveMike_Sports

 
NOT TO BAD

Column: Pay-Per-Boos

On May 2, the Manny Pacquiao-Floyd Mayweather “superfight” did record breaking numbers. But the Pay-Per-View dud probably didn’t help out boxing in the long run. Photo courtesy Wikipedia.org

On May 2, the Manny Pacquiao-Floyd Mayweather “superfight” did record breaking numbers. But the Pay-Per-View dud probably didn’t help out boxing in the long run. Photo courtesy Wikipedia.org

If there are two certainties in life, they are death and taxes. If there is another one, it’s that a high-profile Pay-Per-View featuring Floyd Mayweather will inevitably be a dud.

I’ve been a boxing fan for years; the kind of fan who will gladly tune into a fight on SNY between two boxers I’ve never heard of just to get my pugilism fix. As a result, I’ve spent hundreds of dollars on Mayweather fights in the past, only to be disappointed by the defensive master’s unwillingness to mix things up with his outclassed foes.

But on Saturday night, Mayweather was set to take on Manny Pacquiao in what was inarguably the most hyped boxing event since the heyday of Mike Tyson. This was the kind of fight that roped in even the casual observer, fans that were more drawn to the spectacle and celebrity of the bout than a passion for the sport itself.

And boy, were they in for a let down.

I watched the fight at a friend’s house in Dobbs Ferry. The majority of people who gathered there to watch this “once in a lifetime” boxing supershow were fans of the uninitiated variety. After a lengthy delay—cable companies were having trouble dealing with the demand—and 12 rounds of Mayweather pot-shotting Pac-man while deftly avoiding any semblance of danger en route to a decision win, the feeling in the room was unanimous.

“We just paid 100 dollars to watch this?”

As a boxing fan, I’ve come to grudgingly appreciate Floyd’s style. He’s a superb defensive fighter, the best of his generation. But if there’s one thing he’s never been,
it’s exciting.

But it was hard, even knowing that the fight was most likely going to play out the way it did, not to be swept up in the moment.

From the star-studded audience—which included boxing luminaries and A-listers like Tom Brady, Robert DeNiro and Denzel Washington—to the incessant cross-platform coverage leading up to the fight, I wanted to believe that this fight would be special.

It wasn’t of course, and what could have been boxing’s last grasp at mainstream acclaim instead soured many on the prospects of plunking down their hard-earned cash on any future fights.

This Saturday, rising Mexican star Canelo Alvarez will take on American James Kirkland in an HBO fight that will undoubtedly be a much more scintillating affair than what record-breaking audiences paid for this weekend.

It will most likely be a great fight, but the sport, falling flat on the biggest stage it’s been on in years, will once again be relegated to niche fan status.

Nobody will be watching, and that’s the real shame.

 

Follow Mike on Twitter @LiveMike_Sports

 
NOT TO BAD

Column: Springtime in New York

 Last weekend, Yankee Stadium played home to the latest installment of the Mets-Yankees rivalry. Between the Subway Series and a potential playoff match up between the Islanders and Rangers, the last week has been a fun time to be a sports fan in New York.

Last weekend, Yankee Stadium played home to the latest installment of the Mets-Yankees rivalry. Between the Subway Series and a potential playoff match up between the Islanders and Rangers, the last week has been a fun time to be a sports fan in New York.

The last week or so has been a pretty decent time to be a sports fan in New York.

Between the Yankees-Mets series over the weekend and the possibility of a second round showdown between the Islanders and Rangers the local sports scene has been positively abuzz as of late.

Not too shabby for late-April.

Now, of course, the contrarians out there will tell you that much of this—especially on the baseball front—is overblown. Sure this subway series took place a little earlier than we’re used to; after all, the summer months have usually played host to the series between inter-borough rivals in the past. But I don’t think you could have asked for better timing for this three-game set.

You had the MLB-best Mets going to the Bronx to take on the red-hot Yanks, as both fan bases were beginning to invest heavily in the potential success of their teams this year.

The Mets’ brilliant start had fans of the Amazins primed for the weekend and even through the series didn’t go in their favor, it was still nice to see the two teams square off while both still have aspirations for the postseason. There’s no telling where the two squads will be the next time they meet. The age of the Yankees roster means that they’re only a few injuries away from heading into the tank, while the Mets—even with their blistering start—are always a threat to dash the hopes of their fans. But for at least one weekend, the rivalry mattered again.

As for the hockey world, nothing—as of the time I’m writing this column—has been settled yet. But the Rangers’ impossibly tense five-game series with the Penguins, and John Tavares’ overtime goal to send the Isles’ series with the Capitals to a deciding Game 7, means that, we’re one step closer to an All-New York Conference Semifinal round showdown between the two teams.

Hockey—which often draws the short straw in terms of public consciousness, even here in New York—needs this matchup. The rivalry between the Blue Shirts and the Islanders is one of the best
in any sports.

The same way Red Sox fans still haven’t forgiven Bucky “bleepin’” Dent for that home run in 1978, Rangers’ fans know how to hold a grudge.

Heck, Denis Potvin hasn’t suited up since 1988, and even today, his 1979 hit on Ulf Nilsson makes him public enemy No. 1 at Madison Square Garden. Wounds like that just don’t heal, apparently.

So will we see this blood feud resume?

It depends on if the Islanders can take care of business in D.C., on Monday night, after press time. As a proud Ranger fan, I’m actually rooting for the Isles to move on. It will be good for hockey and
good for New York.

And given the fact that it would pit Jaroslav Halak against a top-flight goalie in Henrik Lundqvist; I’d say it would be pretty good for the Rangers as well.

 

Follow Mike on Twitter@LiveMike_Sports