Friday, July 28, 2017

Sports this 'n' that

The Troy Fighting Irish sit atop their division in the Northeastern Football Alliance at 5-0, but who would notice? Aside from a pre-season feature piece in the hometown paper, and maybe also the Albany Times-Union, the Irish are not getting any coverage at all, and just finished a 3-game homestand last weekend. They're off this week, then hit the road the following week. What is it going to take to bring the media to a game?
Across town, the Tri-City Valleycats have climbed out of the basement in the Stedler division of the NY-Penn League, having won five of their last six after a walk-off grand slam beat the Staten Island Yankees last night. They're still within shouting distance of first place, and with more than a month left in the season, maybe there's still a chance for a playoff run.

The 'Cats got a boost last weekend when Cy Young Award winner Dallas Keuchel, a 2009 Valleycat, started vs. Lowell while on injury rehab. Have to believe that, aside from a Camp Day loss to Vermont on the road on Tuesday, the 'Cats have gotten their season turned around thanks to Keuchel. At last check, the Baby Bombers were atop their division, while the parent Yankees are chasing Boston.
The fire sale has begun in Flushing for the Mets.

First baseman Lucas Duda, one of the team's top sluggers, was traded Thursday to Tampa Bay for minor league pitcher Drew Smith. This clears the path for top 1B prospect Dominic Smith to be called up after the trade deadline on Monday. With utility infielder T. J. Rivera out with an elbow injury Thursday, Jay Bruce was moved from right field to first in a 7-5 loss to San Diego. Bruce filled in earlier this season when Duda was on the DL, but it was more like filling a round hole with a square. Bruce, who was a trade deadline acquisition last season, has put up the same kind of numbers that he had in Cincinnati at this time a year ago, and is reportedly being shopped, as the Mets begin to reload their farm system for the future. I'd normally say it's too soon, but with Washington threatening to run away and hide in the NL East, GM Sandy Alderson & the Wilpons have given up too soon.

Expect Dominic Smith and Amed Rosario to be called up Monday or Tuesday, as the Mets will again shuffle their infield.
NFL training camps are opening this weekend, but in a major surprise, the league has moved the annual Hall of Fame game in Canton, Ohio for the 2nd time. It used to be a Saturday afternoon game back in the day, then moved into a primetime berth on the Sunday after the induction ceremony to accommodate ratings-obsessed network suits at ESPN & NBC. This year, the game will be on a Thursday night for the first time, airing on NBC, two days before the induction ceremony. Last year, ESPN had the game, while MLB Network was given a Sunday night baseball game. That plan backfired when the Hall of Fame game was cancelled due to a field snafu.

So when will CBS & Fox join the rotation? Who knows?
The defending NFC East champion Dallas Cowboys are holding their collective breath hoping that 2nd year tailback Ezekiel Elliott doesn't get suspended for a domestic violence case that didn't result in an arrest. However, with the league facing heavy scrutiny for their past bumbling on such matters, media wags are predicting Elliott, who's since had more legal issues, would sit for no fewer than 2 games. Meanwhile, Giants receiver/shampoo salesman Odell Beckham, Jr. is pulling the money card, looking for a raise as he enters the final year of his rookie contract. In this writer's opinion, he's looking to remind that he's still the top attraction at his position for Big Blue, even though they lured veteran Brandon Marshall from the Jets to give Eli Manning an extra scoring threat.
Since I don't follow horse racing as much as I did in my younger days, it came as quite a shock to learn that former baseball player Paul LoDuca, who spent a couple of years with the Mets, swapped his catcher's gear for a career as a racing analyst. The NY Racing Association (NYRA) hired LoDuca earlier this summer for their on-track programming, seen locally on the OTB channel and likely also on MSG, as an analyst to replace former jockey Richard Migliore.

Hall of Fame NFL coach Bill Parcells spends a lot of his summers in Saratoga, and even owns a few horses, which probably prohibited him from taking the gig if it was offered to him, for all we know. Haven't seen LoDuca on TV yet, but I'd imagine folks going to the track may be carrying some of his baseball cards (Mets, Dodgers, Marlins, etc.) for autographs......

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