A Look Back at The New York Mets’ 1980 First-Round Draft


By Jerry Del Priore

Darryl Strawberry

Former Met and Yankee Darryl Strawberry signing autographs at Richmond County Ball Park, the home of the Staten Island Yankees.

With the 2017 MLB amateur draft taking place on Thursday, June 12, I thought I take a look back at the first-round of the 1980 draft for the New York Mets.

That year, New York, who owns the 20th overall selection this season, had three first round picks, including the number one overall, which turned out to be Darryl Strawberry. Three years later, he earned Rookie of the Year honors.

New York baseball fans don’t have to be reminded what a polarizing figure Strawberry was, winning a World Series in 1986 with the Mets before jettisoning to his hometown of Los Angeles, California in 1991 to play for the Dodgers.

The six-foot-six-inch slugger, with the memorable looping swing, fell victim to drug use in the middle of his career. But he bounced back to respectability with the New York Yankees, capturing championships in 1996 and 1998.

Strawberry wound up smashing 335 career homeruns as well as 1000 RBI.

I’ll always remember Strawberry’s amazing moonshots at Shea Stadium and for carry the Mets on his shoulders for long stretches at a time. He was my hero as adolescent, make no mistake about it.

New York’s two other first-round picks were Billy Beane (23rd) and John Gibbons (24th), both of whom played for the Mets; Beane from 1984-’85, and Gibbons in ’84 and ’86.

Ironically, both former Mets had better post-playing careers. Beane, the subject of the book and movie Moneyball, has been the General Manager of the Oakland A’s since after the 1997 season.

In addition, Beane, considered by many baseball people to be one of the top front office executives in the sports’ history, is a minority owner of the A’s.

Gibbons is the current manager of the Toronto Blue Jays and has posted a 671-624 career mark thus far while guided the Blue Jays to an Eastern Division title in 2015.

 

 

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Young Female Empowerment Organization, 1000 Dreams Fund Holding Special Contests for Brooklynites


By Jerry Del Priore

HowiInnovateThe 1000 Dreams Fund and Fortune is celebrating the imagination and creativity of young female innovators in Brooklyn through its #HowiInnovate challenge. The grand prize is a FREE ($600 value) ticket to the Northside Innovation Festival in NYC.

In addition, not only will you be getting into the event for free, you’ll have the experience of a lifetime, rocking out to live music from singers such as Miguel and listening to inspiring speakers the likes of Senator Kristin Gillibrand.

With the rising cost of education and limited funds to send their daughters to college, 1000 Dreams’ mission is to fund 1000 real-life females nationwide with scholarship money, to fulfill their full potential as productive members of society.

Here’s how to enter the contest!

Applicants must complete the following sentence and share on Twitter to enter:

“I [FILL IN BLANK] #HowiInnovate”

All entries must tag @1000DreamsFund and @FortuneMagazine

Winners will be selected by our internal team based on quality of entry and proximity to NYC area.

Winners will be encouraged to: 

Capture photo and video to be repurposed on @1000DreamsFund social media platforms (tagging Fortune)

Engage on social media during festival, especially during the Fortune Venture Stage Innovation panels. 

Contest ends today, so hurry up an apply @1000DreamsFund.org.

 

Columbia Hurler Merandy Gonzalez Battles in Seventh Win of Season


By Jerry Del Priore

Merandy G.

Pitcher Merandy Gonzalez with the Brooklyn Cyclones.

Fireflies’ righty pitcher Merandy Gonzalez performed his Houdini act against the Augusta GreenJackets (14-34) Wednesday night at Spirit Communications Park.

Gonzalez worked his way out of bases loaded jams in the first inning and stranded two runners on base in the fourth frame en route to a Columbia (27-23) 4-3 win and his seventh victory of the campaign.

The 21-year-old Cotui, Dominican Republic, native surrendered nine hits and two earned runs while whiffing a career-best 10 batters. Gonzalez tossed 98 pitches in six innings of work in the process.  

Gonzalez, a former Brooklyn Cyclone, sports an impressive 1.73 ERA with 56 strikeouts in 57.1 frames.

While with the Cyclones in 2016, Gonzalez posted a 6-3 record with a 2.87 ERA and 71 K’s in 69.0 innings in 14 games.

 

 

 

 

 

Hearing Impaired Pro Wrestler Christina “C-Bunny” Sarni Shines on the Indy Circuit


By Jerry Del Priore

C-Bunny Leg drop.

Christina C-bunny Sarini uses her leg drop move to stun foe.

Christina Sarni was born with a hearing impairment caused by nerve damage that she says has resulted in complete deafness on high pitch sounds, and makes it difficult when she’s having a conversation in a setting with background noises.

But it pales in comparison to the hearing challenges she faces when in the squared circle.

“Not hearing the spots (moves) being called or when we call an audible,” Sarni said of some of the in-ring challenges she encounters. “It has to be a lot on body language. Also, I rarely ever hear that bell ring. I do wear my hearings aids, but they fallout during matches. So, I’m going to have to do without them.”

Sarni always loved professional wrestling as a youngster. It was one of the things that helped her cope when kids tormented her because of her hearing struggles.

However, the 31-year-old Brooklyn native used her performance ability as a hip-hop dancer (and now as a professional wrestler known as C-Bunny) to bust out of her introverted shell.

“I dealt with bullying and extreme isolations at times,” Sarnie said of being a hard of hearing kid. “I felt like I was invisible. As soon as I started performing, people started seeing me as something more than the hearing-impaired girl. That’s who C-bunny is—my alter ego, and eventually I was outgoing all the time.”

Moved by Michael Jackson’s trademark moonwalk dance stride at five years old, Sarni took up the art of dancing. As a former drummer, Sarni was able to transfer that skill to help her connect to the beat when she was a dancer, and now as she boogies her way into the ring during her entrance music.  

She said the highlights of her dancing career include landing a gig as one of T-Pain’s back up dancers and being a contestant on Live To Dance with Paula Abdul.

“When I was five, as soon as I saw Michael Jackson do the moonwalk, that was my biggest inspiration,” Sarni recalled.

When her hip-hop dancing days dwindled, Sarni decided to pursue pro wrestling. She trained with Create A Pro and Warriors of Wrestling, where she attends for instructing sessions and wrestles for today.

Sarni, who works as a personal trainer, decided to go with her childhood nickname her mother gave her for her foray into pro wrestling.

“My mom named me Christina Bunny when I was a kid,” she remembered. “I was friends with Bugs Bunny at Six Flags for my job, which became my name in sign language because there was another Christina in class. So, I had to come up with something different.”

C-Bunny Chris

Christina C-Bunny Sarni reeling in her match in Brooklyn in May.

Sarni, a former fitness bikini competitor, knew her transition into pro wrestling would present some challenges due to her hearing difficulty. But she has learned to adjust in her year and half into her grappling story.

But, she said, the bumps and bruises, as well as relying on opponents to execute proper movements are other aspects of sports entertainment that are arduous.

“The physicality of it all is tough,” Sarni said. “Hitting the mat and taking moves, and trusting each other as well.”

Fortunately for Sarni, when asked if she ever feels bullied due to her hearing issue, she replied, “In the wrestling business? Never. Thankfully, because this business has so many diverse people.”  

Admittedly green and learning all the time, Sarni is committed to being the best she can be as a pro wrestler. And she relishes every shining moment she gets to showcase her dynamic in-ring skills.

“The best thing about pro wrestling is the adrenaline rush when your music hits or you hit a great move,” the Point Pleasant, New Jersey, resident emphasized.

Yeah, Bunny.

Follow Sarni @https://www.facebook.com/cbunnyfeelthebeat

 

 

 

Fireflies Pitcher Jordan Humphreys Improves to Eight Wins Versus Augusta


By Jerry Del Priore

Jordan Humphreys

Righty hurler Jordan Humphreys, with the Columbia Fireflies.

There isn’t much that pitcher Jordan Humphreys has done wrong this season, to say the least.

After the Columbia Fireflies of the South Atlantic League (SAL) trounced the Augusta GreenJackets, 8-2, Tuesday night at Spirits Communication Park, the big righty ran his record to 8-1 and lowered his ERA to a sparkling 1.40.

The Crystal River, Florida, native allowed just one earned run and fanned eight in six innings of work against the GreenJackets yesterday. Humphreys is tied with MLB’s Houston Astros All-Star pitcher Dallas Keuchel for victories in all of professional baseball.

The 21-year-old ex-Brooklyn Cyclone went six innings for the seventh time in nine starts.

Humphreys, the New York Mets’ former 18-round pick in the 2015 MLB amateur draft, currently owns a minor league career mark of 11-7 with a 2.55 ERA across 144.2 innings in 29 games, 22 of which were starts.

While with the Cyclones in 2016, the six-foot-two-inch, 225-pound hurler posted a 0-1 record with nine strikeouts in six innings.

Tennis Elbow Prevention and Treatment


By Jerry Del Priore

Tennis, anyone?

Extensor Carpi Radialis longus and brevisIf you’re an avid tennis player, or participant of any other racquet sports, then you are probably familiar with the term tennis elbow, or lateral epicondylitis—a painful condition of the elbow caused by overuse from racquet sports and/or other daily activities.

Lateral epicondylitis involves the muscles and tendons of the forearm. Your forearm muscles extend your wrist and fingers. Your forearm tendons — often called extensors — attach the muscles to bone. They connect on the lateral epicondyle of the humerus.

The muscle involved in tennis elbow is called the Extensor Carpi Radialis Brevis (ECRB). The ECRB muscle helps extend, abduct and stabilize the wrist when the elbow is straight, such as during a tennis groundstroke.

When the ECRB is weakened from overuse, microscopic tears form in the tendon area where it attaches to the lateral epicondyle. This leads to inflammation and pain.

However, there are ways to help prevent lateral epicondylitis, and treat it if it becomes problematic.

Prevention

  • First, strengthen the muscles of your arms (forearms, biceps, and triceps), shoulders, and upper back. This will help take stress off of your elbow.
  • Secondly, stretch the muscles of your forearm that connect to the ECRB tendon, given special attention to your dominant arm.
  1. You can do this by holding one arm out straight, palm down.
  2. Use your other hand to hold the back of your arm’s hand. Press down so your fingers point to the ground.
  3. You should feel a light stretch on the top of your forearm. But do not stretch it to the point of pain.
  • Next, do not overuse your arm with repeated movements that can injure your ECRB tendon. For example, alternate hands during activities, if possible.
  • Use proper techniques and movements during physical and everyday activities.
  • Use ergonomically correct equipment that supports the natural alignment of joints and posture, especially for your ability, body size, and body strength.

    federer-forehand-stroke

    Tennis Great Roger Federer Takes a Whack at the Ball.

Treatment

  • Rest is the best way to deal with tennis elbow when it acts up before it becomes a chronic condition, as well as ice and a mild anti-inflammatory agent, such as aspirin (as long as you don’t have stomach issues), to help cope with swelling and tenderness.
  • If you prefer something natural to deal with inflammation, I suggest a spice called turmeric. Plus, papain, a digestive enzyme that helps break down protein in the body, such a tissue from an injury, and bromelain, a digestive enzyme found in pineapple juice and in the pineapple stem that works as an anti-inflammatory. All three natural substances come in chewable tablets and capsules. In addition, drink plenty of water, and use B6, which acts as a natural diuretic, helping to rid the dead tissue from an injury from the body.
  • Following the aforementioned stretching routine will also provide a measure of relief.
  • Wear a counterforce brace during activities that require grasping or twisting arm movements. A counterforce brace is a strap worn around your forearm just below your elbow. This brace may distribute pressure from the muscles used throughout the arm, easing pressure on the tendon. The brace is not usually used for prevention. But it may be recommended for someone who is at very high risk for tennis elbow. Talk to your doctor if you’re thinking of using one of these braces for prevention. A counterforce brace is not a substitute for rehab exercises or an excuse to continue overuse activities, however.
  • Your last resort is surgery, which you’ll want to avoid, I’m sure.

 

 

 

NYC Parks Rec Director Bill Lynch Memorialized Through Girls Hoops Tournament


By Jerry Del Priore

Lynch Collage

Bill Lynch Collage.

When Bill Lynch, a longtime recreational director with the New York City Parks Department, passed away from a heart attack at the age of 61 in January, Ed Auguste felt compelled to do something to honor his memory. 

On his death bed, Lynch told Auguste, another a parks rec director, that he needed to carry the torch as the new commish. It was a nickname Lynch garnered through his deep community ties that he formed, and the tireless work of organizing countless basketball leagues for players of all ages throughout the five boroughs.

On Saturday, the same day as Lynch’s birthday, Auguste, with the help of community members, held the first annual Bill Lynch Memorial Classic Girls 17U Basketball Tournament at Hamilton Fish Park—where the two worked for five years—on Manhattan’s Lower Eastside.

It was Auguste’s way, he said, of celebrating the memory of a man who mentored him in basketball refereeing and taught him the rec league ropes. Plus, more importantly, was a positive guiding force in his life.

“He gave me the blueprint and the tools to learn how to run these leagues,” Auguste, 36, said. “So, I’m paying homage to him and keeping his legacy and memory going.

“He was more than just a co-worker. He was a father and a role model to me.”

Lynch’s daughter, Allison flew in from Florida for the special in event, which, she said, was bittersweet for her. However, once the action tipped off, she began to channel her dad and his everlasting love for the game and the children he served.

“Well, it was very overwhelming,” Allison said of the feeling she experienced at the beginning of the tournament. “But once they started playing, I started embracing him, I started becoming him. I started feeling that passion he had for the kids. It didn’t mean anything for him about a paycheck. This is what he was here for—for the kids.”

The hope is to turn the tournament into a full-fledged girls’ basketball summer league next year, according to both Auguste and Allison.

20170527_160955

The LM Gators pictured with their first- place trophies.

The ML Gators dribbled away with the tournament’s first-place trophy, beating Alfred E. Rec Center, 33-15, in its first game and Millennium Phoenix, 31-15, in its second tilt of the day.

Millennium’s Shakina Riddick, who plays for the PSAL’s Seward Park Campus, captured the tournament’s merit award for her outstanding performance and stellar sportsmanship.

Tournament officials awarded the Gators’ Kayla Bridgeman, due to her excellent play, with two tickets to see the New York Liberty take on the Los Angeles Sparks Tuesday night at Madison Square Garden.

 

 

Humphreys, Gonzalez Lead Fireflies’ Pitching Staff


By Jerry Del Priore

M.G.

Columbia starter Merandy Gonzalez is 6-1 with the Fireflies.

Starting pitchers Merandy Gonzalez and Jordan Humphreys have been enjoying tremendous seasons for the Single-A Columbia Fireflies (New York Mets) of the South Atlantic League thus far.

Gonzalez tossed six innings of two-run ball, surrendering six hits and two walks with seven strikeouts in Thursday night’s 3-2 win over the Lexington Legends (Kansas City Royals) at Whitaker Bank Ballpark.

The 21-year-old righty and former Brooklyn Cyclone picked up his sixth victory of the year and for the sixth time in eight starts this campaign, he completed six innings. After his sparking performance, Gonzalez (6-1) now sports an impressive 1.75 ERA.

Humphreys (7-1, 1.57 ERA), another ex-Cyclone, went the distance against the Charleston RiverDogs, recording 10 whiffs in Columbia’s 3-0 win in the first of two Wednesday at Spirit Communication Park.

The right-handed soon-to-be 21-year-old helped the Fireflies register their seventh shut-out victory of the year.

Columbia dropped the second game of the day, 10-5, in a five-inning, rain-shorten affair.

 

 

Columbia Catcher Ali Sanchez Rides Golden Arm to Success


By Jerry Del Priore

Ali Sanchez

Ali Sanchez has gunned down 55 percent of would-be base stealers this season with the Fireflies.

There’s no denying that Columbia Fireflies’ catcher Ali Sanchez sports a cannon for an arm.

Last season with the Brooklyn Cyclones, Sanchez nailed 48 percent of would-be base stealers. This year so far, the 20-year-old backstop has surpassed last season’s numbers, gunning down 11 runners in 20 attempts (55 percent – second-best percentage in the South Atlantic League). 

In addition to his strong arm, the New York Mets’ brass believe Sanchez is a good pitch caller and adept behind the plate in blocking pitches in the dirt.

Sanchez’s above average defensive skills are rarely seen by a player his age. In fact, many pro baseball insiders feel he possesses the defensive skillset to play at the major-league level someday. The problem is: he hasn’t hit much in his minor league career.

This year, Sanchez is batting .207 in 92 at-bats through 27 games with the Fireflies. Last season, the Venezuelan fared slightly better, hitting .216 in 171 at-bats in 46 contests with the Cyclones.

His saving grace is he’s young, so he has the time to develop into a decent hitter.

Sanchez’s career offensive numbers are: .255 with three home runs and 66 RBI in 611 at-bats in 172 tilts, with most of his offensive production coming early in his career.

He suffered a hand injury last June, so that could be part of the reason for his offensive drop-off.

But the 2013 international free agent Mets’ signee’s defensive abilities are good enough to possibly ride to the majors.

However, make no mistake, Sanchez will need to hit more in order to expedite his major league pursuit, and stick there if he makes it to “The Show.”

The National Sport of Afghanistan: Buzkashi, a Goat-Grabbing Game


By Jerry Del Priore

Buzkashi

Buzkashi players battle for supremacy.

This is from the corner of the unusual, at least by American standards, especially mine.

Afghanistan’s national sports isn’t soccer, the world’s most popular sport, nor is it cricket, second in popularity to soccer.

It’s a rough-and-tumble, hazardous game called Buzkashi (goat grabbing or pulling), in which horse-mounted players attempt to place a goat or calf carcass in a goal. I doubt PETA would approve of this sport.

Turkic peoples in northern Afghanistan predominately play the game. The game is believed to be played in Afghanistan since the days of Genghis Khan, the Mongol warrior whose army swept across Asia in the 13th century.

While Buzkashi hasn’t been banned in Afghanistan, the decline in the number of playing horses under the Taliban regime has forced a drop off in the sport, according to internet sources.

Customarily, games could last for several days, but in its tournament-version, Buzkashi match time is limited.

March 21st is called Nowruz, which is the first day of the Afghan New Year and the kickoff of the Buzkashi season. It’s a public holiday in Iran, Iraq, Georgia, Afghanistan, Azerbaijan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, and Kyrgyzstan

Did this get your goat?