Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Rooftop Advertising

This industry notice amends Industry Notice #11-18, dated August 8, 2011, relating to rooftop advertising.

The Commission is scheduled to vote on proposed rooftop advertising rules at its upcoming September 15, 2011, meeting. These proposed rules would permit a vehicle owner to object to the advertising material that would be displayed, but not to the installation of the rooftop advertising fixtures themselves.

Due to the pending rules vote, the TLC will allow current holders of vehicle advertising permits to hack up new vehicles between September 1, 2011, and September 15, 2011, with an installed rooftop advertising fixture. If the medallion owner does not currently have a vehicle advertising permit, they will not be allowed to hack up a new vehicle with a rooftop advertising fixture.

If rulemaking permitting rooftop fixtures is adopted by the Commission at its September 15, 2011, meeting, the TLC shall allow existing permit holders to hack up new vehicles between September 15, 2011, and the effective date of such rulemaking with an installed rooftop advertising fixture. If the Commission does not adopt such rulemaking at its September 15, 2011, meeting, any new vehicle hacked up after that date cannot have a rooftop fixture until new rulemaking permitting such rooftop fixtures has been adopted by the Commission.

All played out

Toys “R” Us has been playing whack-a-mole with its pop-up stores.

The giant toy chain -- which last year had opened a whopping 600 temporary locations to maximize its Christmas business -- plans this fall to slash that number by more than half, sources told The Post.

In addition to a cautious holiday outlook, the deep retreat is a signal that CEO Jerry Storch -- who has won praise for the broad success of his turnaround efforts during the past five years -- simply stuck his neck out too far last year, according to sources.

“Jerry has always emphasized the idea of testing concepts,” one toy-industry insider said of the former Target exec. “This time, I think his eyes got a little too big, and he got smacked in the face.”

Toys “R” Us is backtracking on pop-ups as its private owners -- KKR, Bain Capital and Vornado Realty -- have scrapped this year’s plans to launch an initial public offering of the retailer, which they took private in 2006 for $6.6 billion.

Yesterday, Toys “R” Us spokeswoman Kathleen Waugh confirmed that the company has scaled back its plans for pop-ups this year, but executives “haven’t landed on a final number yet,” she said.

“We still believe the strategy is correct,” Waugh added, noting that Toys “R” Us is still in final negotiations with landlords.

Nevertheless, the chain had raised eyebrows last year when it announced it would open 600 pop-up stores after operating just 90 during Christmas a year earlier. Despite the dramatic increase in square footage, Toys “R” Us had disappointing fourth-quarter profits.

That was partly because Toys “R” Us had overpaid for some of the locations, as it got into bidding wars with Walmart, which had been mulling a possible pop-up store rollout of its own, according to people close to the situation.

Walmart -- which fumbled last year by ordering too few toys ahead of the season, then ordering too many to make up for the shortfall, leaving it with mounds of unsold goods -- doesn’t appear to be pursuing a pop-up strategy this year, sources said.

Still, the market for empty retail space has begun to stabilize -- ending a recession-driven bonanza of deeply discounted real-estate deals for retailers, according to industry insiders.

“Landlords have pushed the rents up back a bit in some of the better mall locations,” says Michael Wiener, president of Excess Space Retail Services, a Lake Success, NY, consultant. “There’s competition now, especially for these sites where it’s short-term and not as expensive from the standpoint of square footage and commitment.”

3UP: Montero, A-Rod, Sabathia

Written by NY Post columnist Joel Sherman

1. The Yankees were still working through some issues involving which players to call up Thursday when rosters expand. But there were three players not in dispute: Jesus Montero is going to be promoted, and Manuel Banuelos and Dellin Betances will not be, The Post has learned.

The Yankees simply feel Banuelos and Betances, their top two pitching prospects, have met their objectives this year, which were to progress from Double-A to Triple-A and log enough innings to become factors to pitch in the majors next year.

Betances started 24 games and worked 121 innings. Banuelos started 26 times and pitched 128 innings. In the way the Yankees progress starters, both would be in line to pitch about 160 innings next year, which is a high enough total for them to be major-league considerations.

The Yankees fiddled with the idea of using one or both out of the major-league pen in September to see if they could become factors for the postseason roster, especially left-handed Banuelos. For now, the Yankees had enough concerns — particularly with fastball command — that they did not see the wisdom in trying to transition to the bullpen on the fly two pitchers they remain adamant will pitch at the top of a rotation in the future.

In addition, Banuelos is not Rule 5 draft eligible this winter, so he does not have to be protected on the 40-man roster and, thus, unless they were positive he could help, the Yankees would prefer not to burn the 40-man roster spot heading into the offseason.

As for Montero, he is going to get opportunities to play and specifically hit, which is by far his best tool. Jorge Posada’s postseason roster spot remains tenuous enough that Montero could have a big September and make himself viable for October at-bats as a DH.

Posada will not be the DH against lefty pitching and the Yankees are currently in line to play the ALDS against the Rangers, who will start at least two lefties against the Yankees. In that scenario, the Yankees could counter a southpaw starter with a lineup that puts Andruw Jones in left field and Montero as DH; that is if Montero proves he can translate all the hype and hope about his bat into major-league success immediately.

2. In today’s Post, I wrote this column about Alex Rodriguez’s belief he can still have a good year despite already knowing his record streak for seasons with 30 homers and 100 RBIs will end at 13. He thinks a strong October and a championship will allow him to walk away from the 2011 campaign feeling as if it was special and great. I stood with him near the third-base line before Tuesday’s game against the Red Sox and on several occasions he returned to that theme: That this is New York, that he experienced the ultimate in 2009 not with isolated personal success, but by being a significant contributor to a title.

It is the right theme for Rodriguez. It is what he should be doing. Shortening the season to a bite size he can handle, that he can make ultra meaningful.

But when you step back, you see the larger issue here: Rodriguez is 36. He is about to play in his fewest games in a season since becoming a full-time major leaguer; even fewer than 2009 when he had career-threaning hip surgery. He says his injuries this year are more freak than age-related. But he does say he healed from his knee surgery slower than he would have a decade ago. Rodriguez says he sees no reason why he cannot continue to be an elite player into his 40s. But you cannot like the signposts of this season nor the recent seasons as his numbers have dwindled; still excellent, but no longer historically elite.

At the conclusion of this season he will have six years at $143 million left on his contract. You can argue that the Yankees print money and carrying Rodriguez is no big deal. Fine. But look how they are trying to get something for their outlay with A.J. Burnett. Think of it this way: If A-Rod were a free agent this offseason, how much do you think he would receive? Do you think he would get three years at $48 million? More? OK, let’s even say it is four years at $80 million. That is still far less than what he is owed. Not only in dollars, but significantly in length.

With a season like this one, it is harder to imagine Rodriguez staying a highly effective player for anywhere near the length of contract he has left.

It is interesting. For much of this season, I wondered how the Yankees would handle the fade of an iconic player who they were into through 2013, Derek Jeter. But Jeter got healthy, started to hit and began to perform in a way closer to his prime. It is now the other player on the left side of the infield you wonder about.

3. I also wrote this column off of last night’s game about CC Sabathia finally beating the Red Sox in 2011. You could tell from interviewing Sabathia that he hated the subject. One of the best elements about the Yankees ace is his self-assurance. He is not the type to strut to cover up insecurity. He is supremely confident he could beat the Red Sox whether he was 0-4 or 1-4 against them in 2011.

Nevertheless, it was good for the psyche of more than Sabathia for him to go out and figure out a way to finally beat Boston. The Yankees have struggled all year against the Red Sox and part of the reason is that Josh Beckett has dominated the Yankees while Sabathia has wilted.

Now the Yankees get Beckett tonight, get a chance to get on the board against him in the way that Sabathia got on the board against the Red Sox in 2011.

Strauss-Kahn due back in Paris Sunday morning: report

Former IMF chief Dominique Strauss-Kahn will return to Paris on Sunday morning with his wife, Anne Sinclair, after a three-month battle in New York against sex assault charges, two French media sources reported on Wednesday.

Le Figaro daily and LCI television both said Strauss-Kahn, who quit his post as director of the International Monetary Fund over the scandal, would fly from Washington on Saturday evening aboard an Air France plane and land at Paris's Roissy Charles de Gaulle airport on Sunday morning, Reuters reported.

Le Figaro said on its online edition that the information came from journalists who had accessed Air France's electronic reservation system and noted the names of Strauss-Kahn and his wife travelling under separate reservations on the same Airbus A380 flight.

Meanwhile, Strauss-Kahn isn't getting much love from the women back in France.

Martine Aubry, the Socialist Party’s former leader, lashed out at DSK just days before his scheduled return to France and amid plans by his Socialist supporters to hold a welcome home celebration for him.

“I think the same as most women about his attitude to women,” she said, according to London's Daily Telegraph.

Aubry, 61, a French presidential candidate who will run in her party's primary next month, said Strauss-Kahn “must explain himself” about the sexual assault charges that were lodged at him and later dismissed.

“He is now free to react, to move about freely and to speak openly,” she said on France’s Canal Plus TV channel on Tuesday.

“I was the first to say that he is innocent until proven guilty, and for the rest, this is a matter on which Dominique Strauss-Kahn must explain himself," she said. “The French people do not expect me to tell them what went on in that hotel room. I have no idea."

Aubry then tossed out a stern warning at DSK, saying, “He’ll be here soon and we’ll be asking him some questions."

Also distancing himself is Francois Pupponi, mayor of Sarcelles, the Paris suburb where Strauss-Kahn lives, the Telegraph reported.

“He’s very popular around here but it’s not like Dominique has won the World Cup,” he said. “Nothing official has been organized for the moment.”

Strauss-Kahn was once considered a favorite to win his party's nomination for the French presidency until he was arrested in Manhattan earlier this year.

Strauss-Kahn, 62, resigned as the IMF's managing director after he was arrested and charged in May with sexually assaulting and attempting to rape a hotel maid in New York.

But he walked free last week when a judge dismissed the charges after prosecutors said they could not pursue the case because the accuser's lies had made it impossible to prove her accusations beyond a reasonable doubt.

The Guinean-born woman, Nafissatou Diallo, is currently pursuing a civil case against Strauss-Kahn, while in France he faces allegations that in 2003 he tried to rape a writer.

Strauss-Kahn has denied the charges and accuses the writer of slander.

Strauss-Kahn's passport was returned to him by US authorities last Thursday, but the remaining Socialist candidates hope that his eventual return to France will be sufficiently low key so as not to disrupt their primary.

With Newscore

Mel Gibson agrees to pay baby mama $750,000

Los Angeles- Mel Gibson's baby mama drama is over -- although it will cost him $750,000.

A judge said today that the actor will pay his ex-girlfriend the sum to settle a long-running dispute and establish a trust to benefit their daughter.

Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Peter Lichtman announced terms of the settlement at a hearing attended by both the Oscar winner and Russian musician Oksana Grigorieva.

The deal calls for Gibson to continue paying for a multimillion-dollar home for Grigorieva and their daughter, Lucia, who turns 2 in October.

When the girl turns 18, the home will be sold and the proceeds will go to her, the judge said.

The deal is seen as a loss for Grigorieva, who had been seeking millions. Last year, she turned down a $15 million settlement package that Gibson's lawyers had offered her.

The settlement calls for the former couple's daughter to receive the same level of financial support as Gibson's seven other children.

When the judge asked both sides if they understood and agreed to the terms of the settlement, both Gibson and Grigorieva answered, "Yes."

Lichtman also said neither Gibson nor Grigorieva can speak or write about their relationship.

During the hearing, Gibson spoke briefly, telling the judge, "Thanks for a reasonable conclusion."

Oksana also spoke, saying, "Thanks to the judge for the tremendous help in resolving this matter."

The couple split in April 2010, but the breakup turned nasty when Grigorieva took out a restraining order on Gibson. She claimed Gibson beat her and berated her in a series of voicemails, an accusation that was resolved this past March when the actor was ordered to undergo the police processing.

Gibson avoided jail time by pleading no contest to charges of domestic battery. His probation prohibits his calling Grigorieva after the judge ordered him to not harass her. He was also given three years' probation, a fine and community service.

According to the terms of the deal, Gibson will pay the money in three installments of $250,000.

The first payment will be made when the deal is signed this afternoon.

The second payment will be made on Sept. 15, 2013, while the final installment will be paid on Jan. 1, 2016.

With AP

Breaking News: Venus Williams withdraws from US Open

The U.S. Open says two-time champion Venus Williams has withdrawn from the tournament before her second-round match, citing an unspecified illness.

Williams was supposed to play 22nd-seeded Sabine Lisicki on Wednesday.

Williams pulled out of two hardcourt tuneup tournaments this summer because of a virus. In her first match in two months, Williams beat Vesna Dolonts 6-4, 6-3 at Flushing Meadows on Monday.

Hughes hopes to settle into rhythm at Fenway

Fenway Park, Boston- The Yankees and Red Sox might be feeling somewhat secure about their postseason chances these days, but intriguing storylines are lurking below the surface of Boston's half-game lead on New York in the American League East.

When the two teams suit up for another barnburner at Fenway Park on Wednesday, it figures to be an important test in the continuing development of Yankees starter Phil Hughes.

It also will serve as an opportunity for Boston ace Josh Beckett to further cement his reputation as the man the Red Sox would most like to have on the mound when they face their archrival -- now and maybe even in October.

It's been a tough year for Hughes, who couldn't earn the win in his last start despite receiving 22 runs of support against the A's. Hughes gave up six earned runs on seven hits in 2 2/3 innings, allowing more earned runs than he had since surrendering a season-high seven on July 22 in Oakland.

Furthermore, in his one start against Boston this year, Hughes gave up seven runs on nine hits in 2 1/3 innings.

"I think every time I get the opportunity to go out there, it feels like a big start, no matter the circumstances or where we are or anything like that," Hughes said. "This is going to be a big start for me and for our team, and we need to come in here and have a good series.

"I didn't have as good of stuff earlier in the year, and now I'm certainly not pitching with what ultimately I'd like to have, but it's certainly better than earlier in the year. I have the mindset of going out, being aggressive and attacking hitters -- just leave it all out there and see where it winds up."

The same will go for Beckett, but the Boston right-hander's results have been starkly better this year, particularly against the Yankees. He's 3-0 with 30 strikeouts in 27 innings and a 1.00 ERA vs. New York, and he showed no signs of slowing down in his last outing, a victory in Texas on Aug. 24, when he gave up one run on four hits in six innings for win No. 11.

"He didn't go out there and get lazy with the strike zone," Red Sox manager Terry Francona said. "He pumped strikes and he threw all his pitches and he kept them off the scoreboard, which is good."

Yankees: Tex on a tear
First baseman Mark Teixeira has hit 30 homers and collected 100 RBIs for the eighth straight season (2004-11), something no other Major Leaguer has done over the last eight years, although Albert Pujols and Alex Rodriguez have a chance to join him this year. It marks the most such seasons in history for a switch-hitter. Only two other Yankees first basemen have recorded at least three seasons of 30 homers and 100 RBIs: Don Mattingly (three times) and Lou Gehrig (10 times). Teixeira is the only one to accomplish the feat in his first three years with the club.

  • Second baseman Robinson Cano is a career .356 (88-for-247) batter at Fenway Park. According to the Elias Sports Bureau, it's the highest career batting average among Yankees all time at Fenway Park (minimum of 200 at-bats).
  • Center fielder Curtis Granderson leads the Majors with a career-high 123 runs this season. He has already scored 47 more runs than all of last season (76) and is on pace to score 150 runs, which would be the most by a Yankees player since Joe DiMaggio scored 151 runs in 1937.

Red Sox: Papelbon closing in on history
  • Closer Jonathan Papelbon is one save shy of becoming the first pitcher in history to record 30 or more saves in each of his first six Major League seasons (2006-11). He has converted each of his last 24 chances since May 13, the longest stretch of his career and the second-longest save streak in the AL this year behind Detroit's Jose Valverde, who currently has a 39-save run. Papelbon has allowed just three baserunners, all on singles, with 18 strikeouts in 16 scoreless innings over his last 16 games.
  •  Sox pitchers have held foes to a .243 average (1,105-for-4,554) this year. Boston last finished a season with an opponents' average that low in 1968 (.241). Red Sox pitchers have held opponents to three hits or fewer in two of the club's last five games and a Major League-leading 14 times in 2011, Boston's most such games in a season in the live-ball era (since 1920).
  • Boston's rotation is set for the weekend, with Andrew Miller going on Friday, Erik Bedard on Saturday and John Lackey on Sunday. Tim Wakefield, still searching for win No. 200, will be skipped, for now. "We're going to back Wake up a little bit," Francona said. "He's not going to pitch until Toronto."

Worth noting
  • Yankees closer Mariano Rivera has converted all 18 of his save opportunities at home this year, having allowed just two earned runs in 17 1/3 innings when in a save situation at Yankee Stadium. All five of Rivera's blown saves this season, matching his total from all of last year, have come on the road.
  • Boston third baseman Kevin Youkilis is slated to be activated on Friday, and outfielder J.D. Drew should be activated Thursday. Both are rehabbing in Rochester, N.Y., with Triple-A Pawtucket.

Capuano comes off heavy workload to face Fish

Citi Field- The Mets' four-game winning streak was halted on Tuesday in a 6-0 defeat, as was their run of lockdown pitching following a five-run, seventh-inning burst by the Marlins. On Wednesday, the Mets will turn to the pitcher who originally jumpstarted the winning streak in Chris Capuano. The left-hander sparked the Mets' streak when he tossed a two-hit shutout with a career-high 13 strikeouts on Friday.

Capuano has buoyed the staff over the last two months, pitching at least six innings in eight of his last 10 outings. However, his shutout came with a price tag in the amount of 122 pitches thrown. For a pitcher that has twice undergone Tommy John surgery, the question is whether Capuano will have much left in the tank.

However, Mets manager Terry Collins was told by Capuano that he feels no effects from his last start. Instead, Collins pointed to the left-hander as an example for his staff's recent surge.

"It's consistent strikes. We haven't walked very many guys ... that's what our guys have been doing," Collins said. "You look at the outings from Cappy and Dillon [Gee] and [Mike Pelfrey] ... they're pounding the strike zone. The minute you shy away from the strike zone is when you really run into problems."

Unlike Capuano and his heavy workload, Marlins starter Chris Volstad accrued extra rest since his last start. Wednesday marks a week since the right-hander last took the mound in a six-inning, three-run effort.

"[The extra rest] ... it's all right. It's kind of weird having all these extra days," Volstad said. "It's wasn't one day off, it was two days. And travel was kind of weird. That's the way it goes. Baseball players are pretty good at adapting."

Volstad threw his regularly scheduled bullpen session on Friday before tossing another side session on Monday in New York.

"So I threw off the mound twice," Volstad added. "[Monday] was a light one. It wasn't very long. It was the get-the-feel-type thing."

Volstad, who also spent some time in Triple-A this season, is in search of his first victory since July 10. He is 1-2 with a 3.51 ERA in six career starts against the Mets, including a no-decision he earned on July 22 when he allowed four runs (three earned) over five innings.

Marlins: Stanton avoiding sophomore slump
Mike Stanton has shown no signs of slowing down in his second big league season, demonstrating consistency in both average and power throughout the season. Stanton, who is hitting .290 with seven home runs and 15 RBIs in August, reached 30 home runs on Aug. 21, which tied him with Jimmie Foxx for the sixth-most home runs before Sept. 1 by a player 22 years old or younger. Stanton, who hit his 31st home run of the season Tuesday, has also picked up his production against the Mets. The outfielder is hitting .342 (13-for-38) with five home runs and 10 RBIs in 11 games.

Mets: Youth infusion
Injuries and roster moves have afford the Mets the chance to see their young players in action. Notably, Lucas Duda is hitting .353 (12-for-34) with nine RBIs over his last nine games, and he is hitting .328 (42-for-128) with 26 RBIs since the All-Star break.

  • Ruben Tejada is hitting .364 (24-for-66) with seven doubles and five RBIs since returning from Triple-A Buffalo on Aug. 8. However, his playing figures to decrease with Jose Reyes back in the lineup.
  • Nick Evans has chipped in over the last week by hitting .435 (10-for-23) with one home run, five RBIs, three doubles and one triple in his last six games.

Worth noting
  • Angel Pagan is hitting .330 (34-for-103) with three home runs, nine RBIs and 15 runs scored in August.
  • Reyes went 1-for-4 and stole his 35th base this season in his second game back since suffering a hamstring injury on Aug. 7.
  • Gaby Sanchez's home run in the first game of Sunday's doubleheader was his first since July 23.
  • Logan Morrison batted cleanup on Tuesday night, marking the third time this year he has hit fourth.

Gritty CC helps Yanks close gap on Red Sox

Fenway Park, Boston- CC Sabathia showed no signs of fretting about his inability to beat the Red Sox in four previous starts this year. Instead, he defiantly noted that he'd done it before and promised to do it again.

The left-hander made good on that statement, firing a season-high 128 pitches on Tuesday and striking out 10 as the Yankees defeated the Red Sox, 5-2, in an emotional contest at Fenway Park.

"I've been struggling a little bit," Sabathia said. "I felt I had good stuff. It's a big win against a team that we're chasing."

The victory nudged the Yankees within a half-game for the lead in the American League East, offering New York a boost in seeing its ace conquer his personal Boston demons.

"It's been talked about," Yankees manager Joe Girardi said. "CC's such a great pitcher, I'm sure he doesn't want to hear that. It's a big win for him."

Sabathia (18-7) said he needed to keep himself calm and not waste his good stuff, but emotions redlined in a game that saw the benches briefly clear and ended with Girardi and Yankees pitching coach Larry Rothschild ejected.

While the gathering on the field was tame by classic Yankees-Red Sox standards, Francisco Cervelli penciled his name into the long lineage of run-ins between the rivals with a single clap of his hands.

Cervelli belted a solo homer off Red Sox starter John Lackey (12-10) in the fifth inning, lifting one over the Green Monster and celebrating his third career round-tripper as he crossed home plate.

The gesture wasn't unnoticed by the Red Sox. Lackey was seen glaring into the visitors' dugout after the homer, and in Cervelli's next plate appearance, a fastball was buried into the reserve catcher's back.

"I don't try to do anything to him," Cervelli said. "Every time I get a base hit or a double, I clap. That's me. That's my game, and I don't try to do anything bad to another player. That's me, and if they feel a different thing, I say I'm sorry. But I'm not trying to [anger anyone]."

Cervelli barked toward the mound, and the Yankees howled about intent. Home-plate umpire Ed Rapuano didn't agree, and a few choice words from Rothschild earned the soft-spoken pitching coach his first ejection with New York.

"Obviously a difference of opinion," Rothschild said. "I thought Lackey threw at him. Ed didn't, and I respect his opinion. He's a good umpire. I've known him a long time."

The hit-by-pitch led to a run, as Cervelli advanced on a passed ball, a Brett Gardner bunt single and a double play.

Filling in for injured third baseman Alex Rodriguez, Eric Chavez contributed two RBI singles to the attack against Lackey. Robinson Cano also had a run-scoring double off Lackey, who was hit for five runs (four earned) in seven innings.

With the Yankees' bullpen needing a breather, Girardi placed a premium on distance and squeezed it out of Sabathia, who scattered 10 hits but was able to manage Boston's batting order when he needed to.

"That's a great lineup," Sabathia said. "They take pitches, they foul pitches off and when you make a mistake, they make you pay."

Boston scored its only two runs off Sabathia in the fourth inning, as Carl Crawford belted a solo homer and Marco Scutaro rapped a run-scoring double to drive in Jarrod Saltalamacchia.

"We worked CC hard," Red Sox manager Terry Francona said. "We made him throw a lot of pitches. But when he needed to, he made pitches. We stranded, certainly, a ton of runners [16 in all]. We had our chances."

The 128 pitches were Sabathia's most as a member of the Yankees, but not a career high. He needed 130 pitches to finish an Aug. 18, 2008, complete game against the Astros while with the Brewers.

"I felt like I had good stuff," Sabathia said. "I felt good and felt strong all the way through."

Boone Logan entered with two on and one out in the seventh, relieving Cory Wade, and the lefty erased a bases-loaded jam by striking out both Saltalamacchia and Darnell McDonald, pumping his fist after the escape.

"That was probably the most excited I've gotten all year after an outing," Logan said. "I'm not usually pumping my fist after I get out of situations like that. But tonight I left it all out there and had a good feeling I was going to get these guys."

The ninth inning saw Girardi take his second ejection of the year and toss his cap after third-base umpire Mark Wegner ruled a hit-by-pitch on what appeared to be a Saltalamacchia swing facing Mariano Rivera.

"He clearly swung to me, and that's an important out," Girardi said. "It's not like me to blow my top very often, but this is an important game."

That put the tying run at the plate, but the legendary closer didn't falter, nailing down his 35th save and career save No. 594 to preserve Sabathia's victory.

"It's always a big game," Sabathia said. "I was just happy we were able to get a win tonight."

Strong early, Pelfrey unable to solve Marlins

Citi Field- Five years, one month and three weeks ago, Mike Pelfrey allowed three runs in five innings in his Major League debut against the Marlins. The Mets supported him with 17 runs of their own. Pelfrey recorded his first big league win.

Sixteen times since that day, Pelfrey has faced the division-rival Marlins. Sixteen times he has come up empty. The right-hander's latest disappointment occurred Tuesday in a 6-0 loss at Citi Field, in which he walked four batters, allowed four runs and ran his personal losing streak against the Marlins to eight, with eight no-decisions.

Over the past five years, it is a statistic that has evolved from curiosity to oddity to downright problem.

"Maybe I'm cursed, I don't know," Pelfrey said. "I'm at a loss for words for it."

Adding to Tuesday's misfortune was the fact that, for much of the evening, Pelfrey seemed primed to snap out of his Fish-facing funk. Retiring the first five batters (three of them on ground balls and one on a strikeout), Pelfrey held the Marlins to two hits and a walk over his first five innings. He continued cruising until the sixth, when he escaped from his first real jam of the day after loading the bases on a two-out single and two walks.

But a few minutes on the dugout bench did not cure his sudden ills. After Pelfrey allowed a double and a walk to the first two batters of the seventh inning, Mets manager Terry Collins called for a wheel play against Marlins pitcher Javier Vazquez, a play designed to retire the lead baserunner on a bunt attempt. The wheel depends upon the second baseman covering first to ensure at least one out.

But Justin Turner instead crept toward second base in an attempt to draw a pickoff throw. Despite noticing him, Pelfrey did not throw to second or step off the rubber, instead delivering a pitch. Vazquez bunted. David Wright fielded. No one covered first.

"I've got to be over there," said Turner, expressing the minority opinion in the clubhouse.

"I screwed it up," Pelfrey said. "Anytime an infielder gives an open glove, you're supposed to pick. And if not, step off."

"Nobody really did anything wrong," Wright said. "On that specific play, it's just everything that could go wrong did go wrong. It's just a shame, because Pelfrey really threw the ball well. He definitely didn't deserve a loss, much less all those runs."

Those runs came after Tim Byrdak entered, allowed one on Greg Dobbs' groundout, and after an intentional walk to Mike Stanton, gave up Logan Morrison's game-breaking two-run single. Stanton later added an opposite-field homer off D.J. Carrasco to the second deck in right field, becoming the first right-handed batter to reach that spot at Citi Field.

Vazquez, meanwhile, was experiencing none of the problems of his counterpart, limiting the Mets to three hits and a walk over seven innings. After putting runners on the corners with one out in the first, Vazquez retired the next 13 batters he faced in succession, and 20 of his final 22.

"Classic way to win: Get good pitching and good hitting," Marlins manager Jack McKeon said. "That's the ingredients."

The first four runs of the evening were all charged to Pelfrey, who is now 0-2 with a 4.91 ERA, with 12 strikeouts and 17 walks in five starts against the Marlins this season. Since beating them in his big league debut, Pelfrey is 0-8 with a 5.28 ERA against the Fish. Against all other teams, he possesses a winning record.

It is a statistical oddity that is equal parts luck, execution and exasperation. Certainly, Pelfrey has not pitched poorly in every one of his last 16 starts against the Marlins, seven times delivering quality starts. But when he pitches well, the Mets do not score enough runs to back him. When he pitches poorly, the Mets seemingly have no chance.

"I'm lucky in my debut that we scored 17," Pelfrey cracked. "Otherwise it might be 17 [in a row.]"

Yet most of Tuesday seemed better for Pelfrey, whose good nights this season have been few and far between. Pitching at a noticeably quicker tempo than he has in recent games, Pelfrey pounded the strike zone early before surrendering his command in the middle innings.

"His tempo or rhythm ... it was really, really good until we got him in a jam, and obviously his pitch count was very, very high," Collins said. "And now you're susceptible to hanging stuff and getting stuff up in the zone, and that's what ended up happening."

"Sometimes he out-thinks himself," Wright said. "He stands on the mound, and you see him kind of look around and take too long between pitches."

Certainly, against the Marlins, Pelfrey has taken too long between wins.

"Obviously it's frustrating," he said. "Sixteen starts against one team -- they have my number, to say the least."

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

In wake of Irene, New Yorkers applaud city's hurricane handling

The city that never sleeps woke up from an Irene-induced nap Monday and found that things were surprisingly normal.

While the hurricane left six New York state residents dead and catastrophic damage upstate, the city itself hummed along, with straphangers heading to work like any old day.

“New Yorkers are resilient,” said Mayor Michael Bloomberg Monday, who was basking in praise for his handling of the storm. “That’s what’s great about New York City.”

There was, however, still plenty to worry about: 1,600 trees were toppled and about 23,400 residents in the outer boroughs were still without power.

Bloomberg could not yet say what the financial impact of the storm would be. “It was not great for the economy,” he cautioned.

Still, even hizzoner’s biggest critics lauded his handling of the storm.

“I give the city an A-plus,” said Councilwoman Letitia James (D-Brooklyn).

Rolling along
Subways, buses and PATH trains were running Monday, and most commuter trains on the LIRR, Metro-North and New Jersey Transit were set to roll by Tuesday. The airports also were largely back to normal.

“I was surprised that so many of the subways were up and running for the morning rush hour,” “Gridlock” Sam Schwartz said, adding that the MTA deserved a “high score.”

Transit advocates agreed.

“I’m loathe to second-guess them,” said Bill Henderson of the MTA’s Permanent Citizens Advisory Committee. “I think they did what they thought was best in the long-term interest of the riders in the system.”

Gene Russianoff of the Straphangers Campaign said he “didn’t have any beef” with MTA chief Jay Walder’s decision to shut service before the storm hit, but pointed out that the revenue lost from suspended tolls and service could be in the millions.

Upstate NYers weren’t as lucky
Parts of Long Island and especially the Catskills fared far worse.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo toured mountain towns that saw record amounts of rainfall and flooding.

“Even in retrospect I don’t know what those communities could've done differently,” Cuomo said. “Mother Nature wins at the end of the day."

While there was enough damage across the state to qualify for federal disaster relief, Cuomo pointed out that New York wasn’t hit as hard as it could have been.

“It could've been a lot, lot worse,” Cuomo said. “That's the silver lining here, to the extent there is one."

Jets handle Giants in pre-season meeting

Metlife Stadium- Is it time to worry about Eli Manning?

The Giants quarterback is now a 30-year-old in the prime of his career, but he's playing fairly miserably this summer. He wasn't impressive at all in the first two preseason games, and it was more of the same last night as the Jets captured a lackluster 17-3 victory over the Giants in what has been billed as the first MetLife Bowl at newly-named MetLife Stadium.

"I think everybody is ready to get to real games," Manning said afterward.

Ready is not a word easily associated with Manning after he failed to get the Giants into the end zone and threw his first two interceptions of the preseason. Manning (15 of 30, 200 yards) and the starting offense played the entire first half and one series into the second half -- and didn't get much accomplished.

"We did a lot of good things, I thought we moved the ball well, guys made some plays, they were just enough things that are keeping us from drives and putting points on the board," Manning said. "Just little things, but those things can add up."

This less-than-inspiring game was delayed two days by Hurricane Irene and Manning looked so out of synch it seemed as if he didn't adjust to the change.

He has completed only 49 percent of his passes in the preseason. Ever since his rookie year he has never failed to produce at least one preseason touchdown pass -- until now. He'll be shut out if he doesn't play on Thursday at New England, and he said he has no problem with sitting the last game out.

"Yeah, I'm fine, no one ever counts how many touchdown passes you throw in preseason," Manning said.

On the opening series, Manning was pressured on a blitz by linebacker David Harris and forced a rushed throw that sailed out of the reach of Victor Cruz and into the hands of safety Jim Leonhard for the quarterback's first turnover of the preseason. Coach Tom Coughlin exonerated Manning, saying Cruz and the tight end did not read the play properly and make the correct sight adjustment.

"They blew it," said Coughlin, who added he would have preferred that Manning "throw the ball into the ground or just take it down."

In the second quarter, Manning felt a blitz from the right, locked in on Ahmad Bradshaw on the left and didn't see Harris, who came up with the interception.

"I tried to back-shoulder it and the linebacker played it well," Manning said.

Asked if he is concerned about the way Manning has played, Coughlin said he was not.

"Would I have liked to have done better? Yeah," Coughlin said. "I'd like to think we would have put some points on the board."

Despite the paltry production, receiver Hakeem Nicks said, "I feel like we're gonna be fine this season." Asked why, he said, "Because I'm out there playing."

Brandon Jacobs rushed for 51 yards on 10 carries.

"It's never that they stopped us," Jacobs said, "because everyone sitting in the stadium or watching on TV could tell that they couldn't stop us, but we stopped ourselves."

There wasn't much bad blood in this annual preseason affair, but Jacobs and Muhammad Wilkerson were both ejected in the third quarter after a brief scuffle. That, however, was more about those two than any nastiness on the field.

Matching Manning's struggles were special teams units that were alarmingly bad, with muffed punt returns from rookie Jerrel Jernigan, a muffed kickoff return by Devin Thomas, a blocked field goal attempt and a 68-yard kickoff return allowed to Antonio Cromartie.

The bright side was the Giants' starting defense, which dominated Mark Sanchez and the Jets, limiting them to four first downs, 73 yards and only Sanchez's touchdown pass to Santonio Holmes in the first half.

The Giants also blanked their former teammate, Plaxico Burress, who did not catch a pass.

East positioning continues as Yanks hit Fenway

Fenway Park, Boston- Yankees manager Joe Girardi has been asked this question for years. Red Sox manager Terry Francona gets his share of it, too.

The two American League East clubs often find themselves embroiled in a division race while enjoying records that have them as high-probability playoff entrants come October. So they are often asked if it matters whether they win the division or ease into the playoff mix via the Wild Card.

Now that they're well clear of third-place Tampa Bay and set to square off in another series at Fenway Park beginning on Tuesday night, with Yankees ace CC Sabathia toeing the slab against Red Sox righty John Lackey, Francona got the questions yet again.

"I don't think we stop and think about it," Francona said. "If you gave me my choice, I'd say I'd rather win the division, because that means you came in first place. When you set out to compete, you want to be the best.

"Saying that, when the season's over, you have a day and a half to prepare for the playoffs, so you don't really sit around and think about your pride or sense of accomplishment; you're getting ready for the next team. You probably don't sit around that much and think about it."

The Red Sox won the World Series as the AL Wild Card representative in 2004, but they've also been knocked out of the postseason after winning the division.

"There are advantages to playing at home, things like that," Francona said, "but I think ultimately what is more important is your team feeling good about themselves and feeling healthy."

Meanwhile, Francona said he was in favor of adding a Wild Card team in each league to better balance the divisions.

"If you're going to start giving that much importance to a division winner, or less to the Wild Card [by adding another Wild Card team], there needs to be more balance. ... Look at our division right now. We've got four teams over .500."

As for the Yankees, Girardi was fielding questions about why the Yankees have been hit so hard against the Red Sox this year. Boston leads the season series between the two clubs, 10-2, and has averaged more than six runs per game in the 12 meetings.

"I just think we've made a lot of mistakes," Girardi said. "They've gotten in to some long at-bats and they've worn our starters down. And they're going to do that. You understand that going in. The bottom line is, you can't walk 'em. You can't give 'em free baserunners.

"They're a dangerous lineup. When you look at their left-handed hitters, they fit that ballpark kind of like our left-handers fit our ballpark. And their right-handers fit their ballpark."

Yankees: CC still searching vs. Sox
It was pointed out to Girardi that Sabathia is 0-4 with a 7.20 ERA against the Red Sox this year, and the skipper didn't have an explanation for it considering Sabathia is 17-3 against the rest of the teams he's faced.

"It is somewhat surprising," Girardi said. "We've seen him throw really good games against them, so I think he's due. I think it's probably a little bit of everything -- their ability to adjust, when he makes a mistake they don't miss it. They're going to make you work. That's the kind of club they are, a lot like our club. So like I said, you just go as long as you can go."

  • Setup man David Robertson has a 1.35 ERA (eight earned runs in 53 1/3 innings pitched) this season and is averaging 13.69 strikeouts per nine innings (81 strikeouts in 53 1/3 innings). Since May 14 -- following Rafael Soriano's final outing before he was placed on the disabled list -- Robertson has allowed five earned runs in his 40 appearances (1.14 ERA, 39 1/3 innings, 23 hits, 61 strikeouts) while working mainly in the eighth inning.
  • With a win on Tuesday, Sabathia would become just the fifth Yankees pitcher to win at least 18 games in three or more consecutive seasons and the first since Vic Raschi had four straight seasons of at least 18 wins from 1948-51.
  • Outfielder Nick Swisher has reached the 20-homer plateau in each of the last seven seasons, one of just three AL players to accomplish the feat: David Ortiz and Paul Konerko are the others. Swisher has six homers over his last seven games.

Red Sox: Lackey staying strong
Lackey threw 6 2/3 innings his last time out, giving up four runs on seven hits and three walks in an 11-5 win over the Rangers in Texas on Aug. 23. He has won three straight starts against the Yankees, including two this season, both at Fenway Park. The last one came Aug. 6 in a 10-4 Boston victory in which Lackey pitched six innings, giving up three runs on six hits and two walks. He has gone at least 5 2/3 innings in every start since lasting just 2 1/3 innings on July 4.

  • Closer Jonathan Papelbon is one save shy of becoming the first pitcher in history to record 30 or more saves in each of his first six full Major League seasons (2006-11). He has converted each of his last 24 chances since May 13, the longest stretch of his career and the second-longest save streak in the AL this year behind Tigers closer Jose Valverde's current 38-save run.
  • Setup man Daniel Bard leads the AL with 30 holds and is two holds shy of tying the club mark (since the stat was tracked in 1969) of 32 that he established last season.

Worth noting
  • Yankees catcher Russell Martin has 17 homers in 358 at-bats in 2011 after combining to hit 12 homers in 836 at-bats from 2009-10.
  • Red Sox third baseman Kevin Youkilis (lower back) will begin a Minor League rehab assignment with Triple-A Pawtucket on Tuesday or Wednesday.

Marlins' Vazquez tries to slow down Reyes, Mets

Citi Field- The Mets saw one of the league's most vibrant players return to their lineup Monday, and they'll unleash him against the Marlins on Tuesday in hopes of watching him get hot. Jose Reyes, the National League's leading hitter, is healthy and ready to attack the season's home stretch.

New York's precocious shortstop has spent two stints on the disabled list due to hamstring injuries this season, but he's also enjoying an amazingly charmed run. Reyes has had his batting average below .300 just seven days this season, all of which came in the opening month.

New York took a sweep in the doubleheader, but Reyes only played in the nightcap. The Mets went 7-11 over the last few weeks with their shortstop on the disabled list, and manager Terry Collins said Monday that his team takes on a different dynamic with Reyes on the field.

"He brings such energy to the field and the team," said Collins of his leadoff man. "He loves to play, loves to be out there. He had a good weekend in [Double-A] Binghamton. ... I just want him to go out and play. I think his energy, his presence in our lineup, makes us a better team."

The Mets have gone 5-7 thus far against Florida this season, but they've lost six of their last eight against the Marlins at Citi Field. Two struggling veterans -- Javier Vazquez and Mike Pelfrey -- will pitch on Tuesday, the middle act in a five-game series.

Vazquez worked to a 5-8 record and a 5.23 ERA in the first half, but he's rallied to a 2-3 record and a 3.51 mark in his last eight outings. The right-hander was originally expected to pitch in Monday's doubleheader, but rainouts over the weekend moved him back in the rotation.

"At this point, it's actually good for the arms to have a couple of extra days," said Vazquez, who will be working on five days' rest. "I try to look at the positives. There is so much negativity in this game, if you don't think positive, it's going to mess you up."

Vazquez has worked on five days' rest 10 times this season, notching a 4-2 record and a 3.98 ERA in those circumstances. By contrast, he went 2-6 with a 5.46 ERA in 12 outings on normal rest, and pitching coach Randy St. Claire said all of his pitchers could use a refresher at this point.

"For all of them, getting another day or two is fine," said St. Claire. "Javy and most of these guys know what they need. When he was younger, I had him my first year as a big league pitching coach [in Montreal]. He would not take a day off before he pitched. He would go in on off-days and throw."

Marlins: Infante heating up
Omar Infante had hits in both of Monday's games, extending his hitting streak to seven straight and 12 of his last 13 games. Infante is batting .382 (21-for-55) over that longer streak, and he's seen his batting average rise nearly 30 points -- from .251 to .278 -- since the All-Star break.

Mets: Reyes' return gives Collins options
With Reyes back in the fold, infielders Ruben Tejada and Justin Turner will likely split time at second base. Collins said that both players have earned the right for extended playing time, and he also said that if third baseman David Wright needs a day off, Turner or Tejada can take his place.

"I'm going to make sure Tejada gets his at-bats. ... We're going to make sure they both get playing time," Collins said. "I'll pick and choose my spots with pitchers. With Jose back, it allows us to give David a day and put Turner at third. I do think having him back certainly gives us a lot of options."

Worth noting
  • Reyes had his batting average below .300 for the first five days of the season, but he's been at .297 or better every day since April 9.
  • Vazquez is 0-2 with a 3.00 ERA in five August starts. 
  • Reyes is batting .217 (5-for-23) for his career against Vazquez. 
  • Infante is batting .364 (39-for-107) in 27 games since the All-Star break.
  • Pelfrey is 1-7 with a 5.14 career ERA against Florida.

Swisher makes Garcia a winner in return

Oriole Park at Camden Yards, Baltimore- The Yankees couldn't be sure what Freddy Garcia might offer them after a 22-day layoff, but the veteran right-hander proved to be rust-proof in his return to the starting rotation.

Coming off the disabled list on Monday, Garcia allowed just a solo homer over six encouraging innings as the Yankees defeated the Orioles, 3-2.

"Everything was working -- I was really happy," said Garcia (11-7). "Hopefully, I can continue to do that in my next start."

Nick Swisher belted a two-run homer off Baltimore starter Alfredo Simon (4-7) that held up as the difference, with Mariano Rivera closing out the ninth inning for his 34th save.

Swisher's 21st home run of the season was his sixth in his last seven games, helping power a Yankees offense that was lacking both Derek Jeter and Alex Rodriguez due to injuries.

"We do have some guys out, there's no doubt about that, and obviously you know the situation," Swisher said. "You want to be the guy to try and step up. I know everyone in the lineup is stepping their game up a little bit."

Garcia hadn't pitched since Aug. 7, the result of a kitchen mishap that sliced his right index finger and kept the right-hander from throwing his splitter, a key pitch for him.

After tossing only a four-inning Minor League rehab start as preparation, Garcia somehow looked as though he hadn't missed a beat, dispatching the Baltimore lineup with relative ease.

"I don't think Freddy lets the extra rest bother him," manager Joe Girardi said. "I think he understands how to prepare for that. He's not a guy that necessarily needs to overpower people. He's going to use all his pitches, and that's what he did today."

Relying on his now-trademark offspeed array, Garcia kept the Orioles guessing in an 88-pitch outing, scattering two hits while walking one and striking out four. He said that he'd missed competing at the big league level.

"A lot, man," Garcia said. "That's why we're here, to pitch. But sometimes things happen. I cut my finger, and now I'm ready for my turn to pitch."

Mark Reynolds connected for his 31st home run in the fifth, the only damage Baltimore would post with Garcia in the game.

"He throws pitches in counts where you are not looking for them," Reynolds said. "He stays away. You think he's going to give you a pitch to hit. He never really does. He mixes it up."

Reynolds' home run was the first Garcia had allowed in 69 innings, establishing a new career high for the right-hander. His last homer allowed was to the Red Sox's Jacoby Ellsbury on June 7 at Yankee Stadium.

"That's as good as it gets," Girardi said. "He hung one slider to Mark Reynolds and gave us six great innings. I would have signed up for that."

New York got to Simon for three runs in seven innings, securing a split of a rain-shortened four-game series that will have the Yankees returning to Baltimore for a Sept. 8 makeup game.

Mark Teixeira belted a first-inning double off the right-field wall, chasing home Curtis Granderson for Teixeira's 100th RBI of the season. Teixeira is the only Major Leaguer to collect 30 homers and 100 RBIs in each of the last eight seasons.

"You know when the season starts you're going to get 30 and 100 from Tex," Girardi said. "It's great as a manager and great as an organization to be able to pencil that in."

Simon scattered four hits, issuing two walks and striking out six while tying his career high with 114 pitches.

J.J. Hardy's eighth-inning homer off Dave Robertson made it a one-run game.

Robertson hadn't allowed a long ball since last Aug. 28, and it was the first run the right-hander had allowed away from Yankee Stadium this season.

"Hardy's a guy that can hit the ball out of the ballpark, and they've got some guys that can do that," Girardi said. "He bounced right back."

Rafael Soriano had pitched a strong seventh and Rivera nailed down the ninth to send the Yankees on to Fenway Park, where they will now engage the Red Sox in another showdown for potential first-place bragging rights in the American League East, which Boston leads by 1 1/2 games entering the three-game set.

"We've got two great teams, Boston and us," Swisher said. "These three games are going to be big for us."

Mets finish twin-bill sweep in Reyes' return

Citi Field- In his first game back from a three-week stay on the disabled list, Jose Reyes finished 1-for-4 on Monday with a fielding error. And still, his presence affected the Mets for the better.

Shifted back down in the lineup to accommodate Reyes, Angel Pagan drove in the go-ahead run in Game 2 of Monday's doubleheader, keying a sweep of the Marlins at Citi Field. Shifted to second base for the first time in more than a year, Ruben Tejada contributed two hits and two runs. With a more complete defensive alignment behind him, Dillon Gee submitted his second strong start in three tries.

Pieced together, it formed a 5-1 victory with Reyes' fingerprints all over it.

"He's the catalyst of this club," manager Terry Collins said. "Make no mistake."

Though much pregame fuss was made over the return of Reyes, who resumed his quest for the National League batting title after spending three weeks on the DL with a strained left hamstring, the shortstop made little tangible impact on Monday's game. Instead, batting fifth in the lineup for the first time since Aug. 6, it was Pagan who lifted the Mets with a game-winning bloop single in the sixth inning, spoiling what had been a well-pitched game for Marlins starter Ricky Nolasco. Two batters later, Willie Harris gave the Mets an insurance run with his ground-ball single to center.

Reyes -- who popped out twice and hit a weak nubber in his first three at-bats -- finally made his presence felt in the seventh inning, diving to rob Emilio Bonifacio of a hit. After temporarily falling out of the National League batting average lead for the first time since June, Reyes then singled in his final at-bat to retake the top spot, before David Wright drove him home with a double to plate the Mets' fourth run.

"Leadoff is a big job," Collins said. "That's a tough job to ignite your offense, and Angel did an absolutely great job of doing it, but this guy, in my opinion, might be the best in the league. I know when he gets his stroke back, it's going to change the look of the team."

Already, Reyes' presence has done the trick. Also accommodating his teammate on Monday was Tejada, who started at second base for the first time since last season. A natural shortstop who subbed at the position in Reyes' absence, Tejada finished 2-for-4 with two runs scored, making a barehanded grab of Nick Evans' errant throw in the field. Though Collins said before the game that he plans on splitting time at second base the rest of the season between Tejada and Justin Turner, Tejada may eventually see that playing time skewed in his favor.

He may even steal a few starts down the stretch this season, given Collins' inclination to rest Reyes regularly. Though player and manager have not mapped out a specific plan to limit Reyes' at-bats in an effort to avoid re-injury, they have promised to meet every afternoon to discuss the state of his hamstrings.

"We need to wait and see," Reyes said. "I love to be on the field. I love to play every day. But I have to understand that I've had the same problem twice this year. I don't want to have any more issues with my leg. If I have to take a day off, I'll take it."

If Reyes -- an impending free agent -- returns to the Mets next season, the health of his legs will be critical to the their success. That made Collins more than merely an interested observer when Reyes sprinted in an attempt to catch Bryan Peterson's bloop single in the second inning Monday, and when he geared up to full speed trying to beat out his nubber in the third.

"I can't worry every time he takes the field that he's going to blow it out," Collins said. "I would be absolutely crazy. He is what he is. He does what he does. He prepares himself."

So too did the rest of the Mets in sweeping the twin bill against the Marlins, after being swept in each of their previous two doubleheaders this season. After R.A. Dickey fired seven shutout innings in Game 1, Gee held the Marlins to six hits over six innings in the nightcap, striking out six and allowing his only run on Greg Dobbs' solo homer. Capping both halves of the sweep was newly minted closer Bobby Parnell, who worked with a two-run cushion in Game 1 and a four-run margin in Game 2.

What the Mets hope is that Reyes will give Parnell, Gee and other Mets pitchers even more support in September. That much is no guarantee -- Reyes did, after all, struggle upon his return from a separate hamstring injury earlier this summer, re-injuring his leg before rediscovering his stroke. Now, in his words, Reyes needs to regain some confidence. The health is already there.

"That's the good news," Reyes said. "The other stuff's going to come later."

If there was any doubt as to his health, desire or general well-being, Reyes nixed it when Collins approached him Monday afternoon to ask how his leg was feeling. The shortstop responded by looking his manager in the eye and saying, quite bluntly, that he was "ready to play baseball."

"That," Collins said, "pretty much describes how he is."

Dickey, Mets stifle Marlins, take Game 1

Citi Field- Pining for Jose Reyes, the Mets played their final game without their starting shortstop in the first half of Monday's twi-night doubleheader against the Marlins. And they played quite well. R.A. Dickey's seven shutout innings paced the Mets in a 2-1 victory over the Fish at Citi Field.

"It felt like a while," said Dickey, who had not won since July 25.

Striking out four of Florida's first six batters, Dickey did not allow a runner to reach scoring position until Logan Morrison hit a one-out double in the sixth. The Marlins then put two runners on base with no outs in the seventh inning, but Dickey -- using an unorthodox, sidearm move -- picked Mike Cameron off second to stunt the rally.

"Not having a ligament in your right arm helps," Dickey said of the pickoff. "I wouldn't suggest that other people try that, but it's something I've been able to do for a long time. Every Spring Training I work on it."

Lasting seven innings in total, Dickey submitted his longest scoreless outing since a one-hit shutout against the Phillies last August. He allowed seven hits and one walk, striking out six. Since May 20, Dickey has posted a 2.93 ERA with 87 strikeouts and 26 walks, despite a 5-6 record over that 19-start span.

"Wins and losses are nice, but it's not the metric that I measure my season by," Dickey said. "If there's a win or a loss by my name, if the team gets the win -- I know it sounds cliché, but that's what you want as a starting pitcher."

"He had everything going for him today," Marlins manager Jack McKeon said. "Give him his due. He pitched a good game."

In relief of Dickey, Jason Isringhausen struck out the side in the eighth inning, before newly minted closer Bobby Parnell recorded his second consecutive save despite allowing Gaby Sanchez's booming solo homer.

Stranding two runners on base in the first inning, the Mets plated their first run off Marlins starter Anibal Sanchez on Justin Turner's single in the second. Josh Thole added more offense an inning later on his grounder to first base, when Anibal Sanchez stepped off the bag to prevent a rally-killing double play. Though the episode prompted a lengthy argument from McKeon, replays clearly showed that the pitcher's foot was indeed off the base.

The Mets needed the break, considering they stranded seven runners on base over the first three innings. Settling down after those early hiccups, Sanchez allowed a total of two runs on seven hits and four walks.

Nick Evans and Lucas Duda, who scored New York's two runs, finished a combined 5-for-8 at the plate.

Reyes, who has been on the disabled list since Aug. 8 with a strained left hamstring, returned for Monday's nightcap against the Marlins. He entered the day leading the National League with a .336 batting average and 16 triples.

Storm's Effects on Drug Testing Operations

The New York City Taxi and Limousine Commission (TLC) is issuing this Industry Notice to inform you of the following issues pertaining to the mandatory drug testing requirements.

LabCorp Facilities are OPEN for Business

All LabCorp drug testing facilities are open for normal testing operations. If you have an appointment for a drug test, you should go to the testing facility to be tested.

LabCorp Scheduling Operations Temporarily Closed

The company which handles the Operator drug testing for the New York City Taxi and Limousine Commission is experiencing temporary problems with their scheduling operation as a result of a power outage from Hurricane Irene.

Anyone calling the LabCorp scheduling phone number will receive a message that the office is closed and they should call back during normal business hours tomorrow.

LabCorp expects to have their lines open and operational by tomorrow morning.

LabCorp Closure on Saturday August 27, 2011

If you had a drug testing appointment scheduled for Saturday which was cancelled by LabCorp due to the hurricane and you have not already spoken with one of their representatives, you should contact them today, and they will arrange to re-schedule your appointment as quickly as possible. Please let them know when you call that you had an appointment scheduled for the 27th which was cancelled due to Hurricane Irene.

The TLC will not close out the license of any licensee that missed their drug test as a result of the storm provided they take their drug test within the next 10 days and the drug test is the only missing requirement.

If you need additional information or have questions regarding the above, please feel free to contact the TLC Call Center at 212-224-6324.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Hurricane Irene on path toward NYC and LI, watch issued for North Carolina

First an earthquake -- now a hurricane!

Hurricane Irene is barreling toward the New York area, and will likely wallop the city and Long Island with winds of up to 50 mph and 4 to 8 inches of rain this weekend.

Weather watchers nudged her track a bit farther east yesterday afternoon, predicting that Irene's eye -- the center of the storm -- will pass over Montauk, bringing winds between 90 and 110 mph.

Heavy rainfall is expected to start after midnight Saturday night and last until Sunday evening.

Mayor Bloomberg, in a briefing with reporters this morning, said people living in the city’s so-called “Zone-A” might need to evacuate ahead of the storm.

That zone includes neighborhoods along the coast, including Battery Park City in lower Manhattan, Coney Island in Brooklyn and Far Rockaway in Queens. The Office of Emergency Management said residents in that zone face "the highest risk" of flooding from a hurricane's storm surge.

"See if that long-lost cousin will put you up overnight," said Bloomberg.

For those who do not have relatives who are so accommodating, Bloomberg said the city will have set up shelters for the 270,000 people who may be affected.

"The areas [affected by the storm] are, in the context of the city, relatively small," he said.

Bloomberg said the evacuation is voluntary, and only if the storm worsens would he issue an executive order forcing people to flee.

When asked of those people who insisted to stay were the storm to worsen, Bloomberg said, "They could die!"

Also today, NJ Gov. Chris Christie signed a state of emergency in advance of Hurricane Irene. The declaration cleared the way for the state to deploy resources -- such as the National Guard -- to counties and municipalities as they prepare for the storm.

“Do not try to ride it out. It is not the smart thing to do,” Christie said during a news conference.

The last hurricane to slam the New York-area was in 1985 when Hurricane Gloria struck. During that storm, New York City only got three inches of rain, although many people were left without power.

“The city has already seen the power of Mother Nature once this week, and Mother Nature may not be done with us yet," Bloomberg said of Hurricane Irene.

Irene could hit North Carolina’s Outer Banks by Saturday morning. The storm is then predicted to chug up the East Coast, dumping rain from Virginia to New York City before a much-weakened form reaches land in Connecticut. Finally, it should peter out in Maine by Monday afternoon.

A hurricane watch was put in place on Thursday for the North Carolina coast -- covering the coastline north of Surf City to the state's border with Virginia -- as Irene bore down on the US.

Hurricane Irene maintained its 115mph winds Thursday as the Category 3 storm bore down on Abaco Island in the Bahamas and continued to head northwest toward the US East Coast, the National Hurricane Center said.

The hurricane is expected to make landfall Saturday morning in North Carolina. North Carolina Governor Bev Perdue Thursday issued a state of emergency for counties east of Interstate 95.

Weather-wise New Yorkers weren't taking any chances that Irene will blow out to sea.

"If you were a gambler, I think you could give odds that it's going to be windy and rainy here, at least. It's a big storm, even if it's off shore," said Charlie Hurd, of the City Island Yacht Club in The Bronx.

Club members got an e-mail yesterday asking them to check their moorings and reduce their boats' "windage" -- that is, anything that might be blown around by strong gusts.

"Sustained winds of this strength will find any weakness -- count on it," the e-mail said.

City officials say they're preparing for the worst, and are ready to evacuate as many as 75,000 people from areas prone to storm surges -- massive ocean upswells, 5 to 7 feet high, that can flood low-lying land.

"Surge is perhaps the most damaging and most dangerous thing that can happen in a city that has low-lying areas," said Joseph Bruno, commissioner of the city's Office of Emergency Management.

"The sense is that we're going to be facing a strong tropical storm in New York City, which would bring winds from 40 to 50 to 60 miles per hour and could bring rain from 6 to 12 inches," he said.

In Springfield Gardens, Queens, rain almost always brings flooding -- and the advancing hurricane set residents scrambling to be ready.

"I'm stocked up on food and canned goods," said Allen Ortiz. He has built a cinderblock wall several inches high to keep his driveway from flooding, and set up two pumps to clear water out of his basement.

And storm-savvy New Yorkers were also stocking up yesterday at the Home Depot in Ozone Park. Clifford Singh, who lives nearby, bought several flashlights. Singh is originally from the British Virgin Islands, where they know hurricanes. "I've bought water, groceries, everything," he said. "I always stock up."

The Bahamas government has discontinued the hurricane warning for the southeastern Bahamas. The warnings remain in place for the central and northeastern Bahamas.

US Navy officials confirmed to Fox News Channel that vessels from the 2nd fleet based along the Virginia coastline were ordered out to sea Wednesday night in preparation for Irene's expected landfall.

The Miami-based NHC issued its watch for the North Carolina coast covering an area from north of Surf City to the North Carolina-Virginia border, including the areas around Pamlico, Albemarle and Currituck Sounds.

A tropical storm watch was also issued from north of Edisto Beach in South Carolina to Surf City in North Carolina.

The Category 3 hurricane was located about 65 miles east-north-east of Nassau in the Bahamas. The hurricane is expected to strengthen Thursday and into Friday.

Life-threatening surf conditions and heavy swells are expected to strike the southeastern coast of the US later Thursday.

While some people prepare, others are holding off hurricane-related decision-making.

Organizers of the Dave Matthews Band concerts on Governors Island this weekend hadn't decided yesterday whether to postpone or cancel.

Officials of the Barclays golf tournament in Plainfield, NJ, expect it'll be rained out this weekend, but as of yesterday they hadn't officially decided to call off play.

Harden, Hughes converge from similar paths

Yankee Stadium- Both Rich Harden and Phil Hughes have seen better days.

But both have also seen worse days as victims of past injuries, and on Thursday, the pair will square off at Yankee Stadium, each looking to win a third consecutive decision.

In Harden's last start, he dominated the Blue Jays over seven innings, allowing no runs on two hits while tying a career high with 11 strikeouts.

All that despite throwing 23 pitches in the first inning and walking four in the game.

"He's been terrific," A's manager Bob Melvin said.

In Hughes' last start, he stymied the Twins over 7 2/3 innings, allowing one run on two hits while striking out two, walking three and retiring 22 of the 27 batters he faced from the second inning on.

Hughes' win was his third in a span of four starts, and it came at a time when the Yankees are looking to cement their rotation for a postseason run.

"We'll continue to have to juggle and play around with our pitching, I can tell you that," Yankees general manager Brian Cashman said. "Whether that means giving guys rest or having all hands on deck because we'll have games piling up on us, I don't know yet."

Since missing most of the first three months of this season due to right shoulder inflammation, Hughes has allowed more than two earned runs in a game only once and is 4-3 in that span.

Harden, who also missed about three months, has won two of his past three starts and is 4-2 in nine starts on the season, having struck out more than a batter per inning.

"You do worry about the injury problems he's had in the past, but -- knock on wood -- he's shown none of that here," Melvin said. "We're cognizant of his pitch count, and I think the last time was the first time he was over 110, but his stuff was still good. We're always staying on top of that and making sure we're not pushing too far. If there's anything we feel like is a concern, I certainly wouldn't have a problem pushing him back, but to this point, he's been true to form almost every time out."

In 10 career appearances, including eight starts, against the Yankees, Harden is 2-3 with a 4.91 ERA. He was the winning pitcher in his only start against New York this year, a 4-3 A's victory on July 23, when he gave up two runs in 5 1/3 innings while walking four and striking out six.

Hughes was touched up in a start against the A's on July 22, when he allowed seven earned runs on nine hits in 4 1/3 innings.

A's: Allen forcing way into lineup
After smacking two home runs to record his first career multihomer game on Tuesday, A's first baseman Brandon Allen is now 13-for-33 since his Aug. 13 promotion from Triple-A Sacramento.

"With Brandon playing as much as he is at first, we're back to a tougher mix with [Conor] Jackson, [David] DeJesus [and Ryan] Sweeney," Melvin said. "It just is what it is. The way [Allen's] playing right now, we want to take a good, hard look at him, and deservedly so at this point. Not only do we want to look at him, but he's earned his time, so it makes it a little harder rotating those three guys in."

Allen was traded to the A's with left-hander Jordan Norberto for reliever Brad Ziegler on July 31.

  • Wednesday night's 6-4 victory snapped a streak of 13 errors in 13 games for the A's, who are second in the Majors with 103 on the season. Eighteen of those errors have been committed by pitchers, which has Oakland tied with Cincinnati for the most in the Major Leagues.

Yankees: A-Rod fights through injuries
After spraining his left thumb against the Twins on Sunday, third baseman Alex Rodriguez speculates that he'll miss a few days, but manager Joe Girardi doesn't think it will be an issue going forward.

"If the thumb lingers, yes, it could be, like, 'Man, this is really getting to be a pain in the rear end,'" Girardi said. "But I believe he feels like he's on the other side of the [recovery from right] knee [surgery], and hopefully, if this thumb's only a couple of days, it shouldn't be on his mind."

In 81 games this season, Rodriguez is hitting .290 with 13 home runs and 52 RBIs.

Worth noting
  • With Wednesday night's loss, the Yankees have had 22 of their past 41 games decided by three runs or fewer. They are 6-6 in one-run games during that span.

Yanks force extras, but A's go home happy

Yankee Stadium- The Yankees haven't enjoyed the taste of a freshly made walk-off pie in a short while, and though they had their chances on Wednesday, it was Coco Crisp and the Athletics doing the celebrating.

Crisp belted his second homer of the night, a three-run shot off a rusty Rafael Soriano, as Oakland pulled ahead and held on to defeat New York, 6-4, in 10 innings at Yankee Stadium.

"Today wasn't my day -- I left a couple of pitches up," said Soriano, who hadn't appeared in a game since Aug. 16. "I feel good. This is the first time I haven't pitched in a week, but I tried to do my best."

That wasn't good enough for a sellout crowd of 47,271, many of whom streamed for the exits after Crisp's laser landed in the second deck in right field. The rest stuck around and lustily booed the former closer, whose first season in New York has been a trying one.

"He's an aggressive hitter, and we know that," Yankees manager Joe Girardi said of Crisp, who also homered off CC Sabathia in a 4-for-4 showing. "He was aggressive tonight, and he was the guy who beat us."

Crisp said that he guessed slider from Soriano, having seen it previously as a first pitch from the right-hander, and he barreled the ball up.

"It's not something that I should do, because I'm not [usually] successful," Crisp said. "I'm not sure when I've been successful doing that, aside from tonight."

While Soriano got stuck with the loss, the Yankees had other opportunities. Sabathia was clinging to a one-run lead in the eighth inning when Girardi visited the mound, showing no intention of removing his ace despite spotting the tying run at second base in Kurt Suzuki.

"[I came out] just to tell him, 'It's your game, let's go,'" Girardi said. "Let's go get this guy.'"

Sabathia got ahead of Scott Sizemore with two strikes but left a curveball up and saw it laced down the left-field line for an RBI double, ending the left-hander's night.

"You have to make pitches," Sabathia said. "I didn't, and it cost me."

Sabathia didn't have much to hang his head about, not after walking one and striking out seven in a no-decision.

But Sabathia is 1-2 with a 5.72 ERA in his last four starts, and he remained mystified by Sizemore's four-hit night, three of which came off him. Sizemore is now 6-for-10 lifetime with three doubles off the lefty.

"I haven't figured it out yet," Sabathia said. "I gave everything I had to him. Hopefully, I can figure it out soon."

Crisp gave the A's the lead later in the eighth inning, punching a broken-bat single to center field off Dave Robertson.

"He had a tremendous game, homers from both sides of the plate," said Nick Swisher, who also homered twice. "It was crazy; he went up with no batting gloves today. I thought he was trying to change things up a little bit."

The Yankees answered in the eighth off Grant Balfour as Mark Teixeira collected homer No. 35 and his 96th RBI, crushing a game-tying bomb into the right-field bleachers.

But New York went quietly in the ninth against Fautino de los Santos, and though Swisher slugged his second homer in the 10th, it came as the Yankees gasped their last breaths, showing two outs and no one on.

The Yankees didn't enjoy one of their better offensive showings against A's right-hander Trevor Cahill, who held them to two runs and seven hits in six-plus innings.

"He didn't walk too many guys tonight, and I thought his sinker was outstanding," Girardi said. "He threw some sinkers, and it looked like the bottom fell out of them. That's as good of stuff as we've seen from him."

Derek Jeter laced a run-scoring single in the third inning with birthday boy Brett Gardner aboard, the captain's 3,055th hit, which pulled him even with Rickey Henderson for 21st place on baseball's all-time list and moved him two ahead of Hall of Famer Rod Carew (3,053).

Swisher hit a solo homer in the sixth off Cahill, but the chance the Yankees would rue was in the fourth, after Robinson Cano led off with a double and Swisher walked.

Jorge Posada and Eduardo Nunez grounded out, but Cahill struck Francisco Cervelli out swinging to escape.

"We had a couple of opportunities to score," Jeter said. "You know, guys on third, less than two outs -- we didn't get those guys in. You play close games, you have to find ways to get those guys in."

With the Red Sox winning big in Arlington, on their way to a 13-2 drubbing of the Rangers, the Yankees officially fell out of first place in the American League East as Andruw Jones fanned against Oakland closer Andrew Bailey to end the game.

"I guess you could play the woulda, coulda, shoulda game, but that's not really my style," Swisher said. "We just didn't get it done. We've got to come back tomorrow and get ourselves ready to play, because we don't want to lose another one."

Pelfrey's gutsy effort backed by Evans' big day

Citizen's Bank Park, Philadelphia- In discussing this week why his team is best suited with Mike Pelfrey in the rotation, Mets manager Terry Collins referenced the sheer impossibility of replacing the right-hander's annual workload on the mound. Converting Pelfrey to a closer, as the club discussed internally last week, would rob the team of -- if nothing else -- one of baseball's foremost locks to pitch 200 innings each and every season.

The value of that skill set became magnified Wednesday afternoon, when the Mets placed starting pitcher Jon Niese on the disabled list and began bracing for a rotation-wrecking doubleheader early next week. Without a significant contribution from Pelfrey, the team risked burning out its bullpen well in advance of a stretch of 14 games in 13 days.

As it was, the Mets could not entirely avoid their bullpen in a 7-4 victory over the Phillies. But Pelfrey's career-high 125 pitches at least gave them some surer footing, combining with Nick Evans' bat and Bobby Parnell's second career save to give the Mets their first win in six games.

"He got us to where we needed to get to, for sure," Collins said of his starter.

That much represented a minor miracle, considering Pelfrey had thrown 57 pitches by the time the second inning was complete. Shane Victorino's two-run single and Chase Utley's RBI hit represented only the most tangible of Pelfrey's problems; he was also forced to overcome the fatiguing effects of six hits and two walks over his first two innings.

Which Pelfrey did, and with relative aplomb, not allowing another run throughout the middle innings. Sitting at 114 pitches through the fifth, the right-hander then marched off the mound, found Collins in the dugout and told him he could give the Mets one more inning.

It turned out to be his best. Retiring the Phillies in order on 11 pitches, Pelfrey walked off the field for the final time boasting a four-run lead.

From there, it was up to Tim Byrdak, Manny Acosta and Bobby Parnell, who pitched around two walks to record his second career save and first of the season -- whiffing Ryan Howard on a 99-mph fastball and Hunter Pence on a 90-mph slider. Recently named head of the Mets' closer-by-committee situation, Parnell is looking to entrench himself in that role for next season.

"The walks were just nerves, I guess," Parnell said. "They'll go away."

The Mets certainly hope so, for reasons well beyond the scope of a mid-August series in Philadelphia. Wednesday's game, from a broader perspective, was all about those players looking to establish themselves for next season. There was Parnell, aiming to lock down the closer role. There were middle infielders Justin Turner and Ruben Tejada, combining to turn a critical double play with two men on base in the eighth. And there was Evans, who hit a three-run homer in the first inning, finished with three hits and completed a cycle in four consecutive at-bats dating back to Tuesday.

Starting regularly at first base in an effort to give Lucas Duda consistent at-bats in right field, Evans -- for the first time since his initial big league callup in 2008 -- suddenly has an opportunity to play every day in the Majors.

"That's all you can ask for is to get a chance to play," Evans said, "and just hope that you can make the most of it."

In many ways -- some of them more subtle than others -- the next six weeks will likewise be an audition for Pelfrey, who must prove worthy of a contract offer that could exceed $5 million through arbitration. Taking multiple steps backward this season after a breakout first half in 2010, Pelfrey has provided the Mets with none of the effectiveness he did last summer, spawning a litany of theories and potential solutions -- including, most recently, the possibility of closing out games.

The Mets nixed that idea largely because -- given the lack of depth in their Major League rotation -- they could not afford to sacrifice Pelfrey's ability to rack up massive innings totals.

Pelfrey takes pride in that reputation. But he takes more pride in victories.

"Beyond this year, I'm not guaranteed anything," Pelfrey said. "So these next six or seven starts are big -- not only for me and some of the goals I've set, but for the team and next year. I want to go out there and do well."

He wants, in other words, to win with regularity -- something the Phillies seem to have little trouble doing. It was Kendrick who perhaps best summed the discrepancy between these two teams, noting that Wednesday's game was not a "do or die" for the Phillies.

But for the Mets -- even with nothing on the line in the standings -- it certainly felt like it. And that is what made Pelfrey's performance so significant.

"I'll tell you, we needed him to get us to the seventh inning and he got us there," Collins said. "That's a huge outing for him."

Mayor Bloomberg updates New Yorkers on city preporations for Hurricane Irene

The following are Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg’s remarks as delivered this morning outside of St. Luke’s Baptist Church in Laurelton, Queens, where he met with residents and visited a Department of Environmental Protection crew working on preemptive flood mitigation.

“We’re joined by too many people to introduce, but this is the community’s representatives, clergy, and laymen and laywomen who live in this wonderful community, and like all of us are worried about Irene. I met with some of the community leaders this morning for breakfast, and we discussed how to prepare ourselves for the coming storm and the flooding that could result from it.

“The good news is that our Department of Environmental Protection – and crews like the ones you saw working here on the street – are working hard to clean out catch basins, which will help mitigate flooding from the weather that’s heading our way. You should know we have 143,000 catch basins in this city. We can’t check them all every day. As a matter of fact, the schedule is once every three years, but we do inspect certain ones much more frequently because they have a much greater impact on the system. And so we think we’re a little bit ahead of where we want to be, at least we hope we are. But we’re doing everything we can.

“Since 2002, you should know that we’ve invested nearly $2 billion in citywide sewer system upgrades, including $242 million specifically where we are in Southeast Queens, which has helped reduce flooding in what is the most flood-prone area in our city.

“The City has already seen the power of Mother Nature once this week, and Mother Nature may not be done with us yet. I’m sure that many of you are following the story of Hurricane Irene. I’d like to give you an update on how we’re preparing our city for all possible scenarios. Unfortunately, there is an element of unpredictability when it comes to the weather, and so we hope for the best but we prepare for the worst. That’s why this City is, I think, ready for this weekend.

“By the time Irene gets to us, which is forecasted to do sometime on Sunday, it certainly will still be a powerful storm – possibly as strong as a Category 2 hurricane on Long Island, but anything can happen in terms of its direction and its severity.

“At this point, the forecast does not indicate that the storm would hit New York City with that strength, but we certainly will still see its effects here, including tropical storm-like conditions such as heavy rains and winds of 60 miles an hour or more. And as a matter of fact, you’re going to see some of Mother Nature later this afternoon if the forecasters are right. There is a band of heavy thunderstorms that are scheduled to move across the city later today, and so take the normal precautions. When you’re out in thunderstorms, don’t go out into a field, get inside, inside a car, or inside a building. And be careful. And also, it’s a good time to check in on any neighbors who live alone, and could use some help.

“If the worst scenario is going to happen this weekend, we will activate other elements of our Coastal Storm Plan, including the possibility of evacuating of New Yorkers who live in low-lying areas that could be affected by such storm surges. That includes places such as Coney Island and Manhattan Beach in Brooklyn, Far Rockaway and Broad Channel in Queens, South Beach, Midland Beach, and other low-lying areas on Staten Island, and Battery Park City in Manhattan.

“We don’t yet have enough information yet to make that call. There are still too many unknowns, but we will make a decision on whether to call for evacuating certain areas based on the track, the speed, and the strength of the storm as it moves from the Bahamas up the east coast.

“In the meantime, there are some steps that New Yorkers can take to prepare themselves for the storm. First, find out if you live in a hurricane evacuation zone. You can do this by going on the City’s website, and typing in your address, or by calling 311 and giving your address to the call-taker. If you do live in an evacuation zone, now is a very good time to check in with your friends or family in other parts of the city and identify a place you could stay if the weather gets bad.

“Secondly, New Yorkers can prepare themselves by stocking up on some basic supplies and making what we call a ‘Go Bag,’ a bag that you could take with you if you had to leave home at a moment’s notice. Some of the things you should have in a ‘Go Bag’ are drinking water, a first-aid kit, a flashlight, any important medications that you take, essential documents, such as passports or other forms of ID, and an extra set of car and house keys.

“City government is also taking every possible step to prepare for the storm. Yesterday, we activated our Command Center at the Office of Emergency Management. We are checking in regularly with the National Weather Service.

“I spent a lot of time on the phone today with MTA Chairman Jay Walder, and we are in constant communication with the State and closely coordinating any needed resources with State officials and agencies. And I will say that the MTA and the State have been phenomenally cooperative as you would expect. We’re all in this together, and the seamless cooperation with us and the State, and us with the MTA I think comes about from an awful lot of planning that we have done over the recent period.

“The heads of all the City’s emergency-response agencies – including NYPD, FDNY, OEM, Transportation, Health, and Buildings – are taking steps to ensure that we have the right staff and resources for any contingency.

“We have an enormous emergency shelter system and a database of thousands of City employees who would be called upon to run evacuation centers and shelters if we needed to open them. Our response agencies have had regular drills and exercises to practice what we would do in the event of an emergency, and we are prepared to handle one.

“The Police Department is positioning, for example, 50 small boats at station houses in low-lying areas. The NYPD Special Operations Division also has several helicopters and 33 police boats at the ready.

“Our city’s public hospitals have tested their emergency generators and have topped them all off with fuel. They’ve also made sure that they have adequate medical supplies and food on hand, in case the weather disrupts deliveries.

“Our Parks Department is prepared to schedule forestry crews, inspectors, and contractors to be available on Sunday and Monday to handle emergency tree conditions. We have engaged emergency forest contractors and have the ability to activate those contracts immediately.

“We are also reviewing the flood plan for the US Open at Flushing Meadows Corona Park, and we are discussing contingencies for the World Police and Fire Games, which are scheduled to start on Friday.

“To help control flooding, the Department of Environmental Protection will have extra sewer maintenance crews out in the field. The crews will respond to highway and street flooding by clearing catch basins like the one we just saw being cleaned out in front of the church, or pumping water out of flooded sewers.

“Our Sanitation Department has instructed the mechanical street sweeper operations to pay special attention to any litter conditions near storm sewers in order to allow for a freer flow of rainwater into the storm sewer system. And our Department of Transportation is deploying crews to 26 designated flood locations to clear debris from catch basins. In addition, three Department of Transportation facilities with high likelihood of flooding will be evacuated and the equipment will be moved to higher ground.

“We expect that Irene will have an effect on our beaches, and we are urging anyone who chooses to swim in the ocean today or this weekend to be extremely cautious and to watch out for riptides. In the event of rough surf at beaches, we are prepared to close those areas to the public and move equipment. But the most dangerous thing in this city, probably, where you’re the most likely to have tragedies, is people that go swimming. Don’t go swimming if there isn’t a lifeguard there, don’t go swimming when the beaches get closed. I know some people love to go in the rough waves, it’s exciting, but it is dangerous and there’s no excitement that’s worth dying. And every year we say this, and then we still have tragedies. So please, if you have friends and neighbors or family members that are going swimming, try to convince them not to do so. It’s just better to be safe than sorry.

“To protect homeless New Yorkers from the elements, we will, you should know, double our street outreach operation and simplify the intake process at shelters. Clients will be able to enter any Homeless Services facility, including shelters and Safe Havens, without going through the usual steps of an intake center. And to be sure homebound seniors get their meals, our Department for the Aging is making sure that meal providers deliver an extra meal tomorrow, Friday, and bring the Sunday meals on Saturday before the worst of the storm hits.

“Those are just some of the actions we’re prepared to take based on what we know right now. If any New Yorker wants to know what they personally can do to prepare, the Office of Emergency Management’s hurricane readiness guide is available in 11 languages on or by calling 311.”

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Alleged naked stabber claimed quake made him do it: Witnesses

Washington Heights- He was more than just a little rattled by yesterday's earthquake.

The naked, knife-wielding madman who stabbed four people in his Washington Heights apartment building yesterday thought the earthquake was the end of the world, witnesses said today.

"He was reacting to the earthquake. He started shouting, 'The world is going to end! The world is going to end! I don't want to die!'" said Edwin Rivera, 62, whose 84-year-old mother Isabel was stabbed eight times by the psycho.

Rivera’s mother is in stable condition

Christian Falero, 23, allegedly began knocking on doors around 4:10 p.m. yesterday on the second floor of 870 Riverside Drive and stabbing anyone who answered.

The stabbing spree took place over two hours after the 1:51 p.m. quake.

He injured four victims and killed 81-year-old Ignacio Reyes-Collazo before stabbing himself.

Rivera said Falero was a known drug user.

“He took them on top of all the meds he took,” Rivera said of Falero, who also suffers from mental illness.

Charges are still pending against Falero.