Friday, May 23, 2014

SHLs Moving Ahead in August

The New York City Taxi and Limousine Commission (TLC) is pleased to notify its licensees that, starting in August 2014, the TLC will begin selling the next installment of 6,000 Street Hail Livery (SHL or “boro taxi”) permits.

Between now and then, the TLC will be working with the New York State Department of Transportation, disability advocates, the New York City Council and members of the boro taxi industry to determine how many of these new permits will be required to be used with a wheelchair accessible vehicle.

Also during this period the TLC will host outreach events in each borough to share information about the boro taxi program with, and to elicit feedback on the program from, the public and potential permit purchasers.

Starting in mid-July, the TLC will begin e-mailing prospective purchasers who are currently on the wait list to schedule appointments to purchase these permits.  E-mails with the date and time of the purchase appointment will be sent to the e-mail address provided by the prospective purchaser when they placed themselves on the wait list.  All appointments will be scheduled at the TLC's Licensing facility in Long Island City, Queens.

Please check our website at: http://www.nyc.gov/html/tlc/html/industry/shl.shtml for updates and additional information on the status of the program, as well as for locations and details on the boro taxi borough events.

White Sox seek spark from Eaton against Yankees

The White Sox traded for Adam Eaton this past offseason in part because he gives max effort on every play.

Then again, Chicago needs its leadoff man to stay healthy.

Eaton, who came off the disabled list Sunday after sitting out with a strained right hamstring, said before Thursday's game his legs weren't yet underneath him, affecting his timing at the plate. Perhaps he started to find it after singling in his first two at-bats Thursday. The White Sox hope he can keep things going at the top of a lineup that lost Jose Abreu to an ankle injury the same day Eaton returned when they take on the Yankees on Friday night at U.S. Cellular Field.

Eaton said several players have talked to him about how to dial it back when he can, most of all his slow-footed teammates, Adam Dunn and Paul Konerko. It may go against his DNA to ever go less than 100 percent -- even on a routine grounder -- but he's learning how important it is for him to conserve his legs.

"Paulie was talking about his speed and how he tries to conserve his speed, his legs, for how important it is to him," Eaton quipped. "With those jokes, we had a good conversation and he's just saying, 'You wanna play in this game a long time, and you wanna be able to walk when you're 60, you've got to take it easy.'

"It's something I'm learning and again, risk-reward as we've always talked about. Hopefully, we'll continue to make better judgment calls when we can really bust it down the line and when we can take it easy."

Like White Sox manager Robin Ventura with Eaton, Yankees skipper Joe Girardi has to concern himself with conserving an outfielder, but for a different reason. The 40-year-old Ichiro Suzuki came into the season as the team's fifth outfielder but has seen consistent playing time since Carlos Beltran hit the disabled list May 15. Suzuki didn't start in Thursday's series opener, but came through with a pinch-hit single during a two-run ninth-inning rally.

"He's going to play more," Girardi said before Thursday's game. "I didn't play him tonight because of the left-hander [Chris Sale]. That's simply the reason. But he's been productive for us and he's done a good job"

Suzuki and the rest of the Yankees hitters will look to back veteran righty Hiroki Kuroda, who has somewhat turned things around in May. After posting a 5.28 ERA in five April starts, he has a 3.86 ERA in four May start, and only one wasn't a quality start. Even without Abreu, Girardi knows Kuroda will have his hands full with a revamped Chicago lineup.

"I noticed they scored seven runs on Monday and seven on Tuesday [without Abreu], so I mean this is a club that I think is second in the American League in runs scored," Girardi said. "So they're going to score runs and we're going to have to find a way to shut them down."


White Sox: Noesi building up arm strength
Hector Noesi will make his fifth start for the White Sox as he continues to build his arm strength after a brief stint in the bullpen. Noesi, once a highly regarded prospect in the Yankees' system who went to Seattle in the Michael Pineda deal in January 2012, last started regularly that season for the Mariners.

Noesi has gone five, six and six innings in his last three starts after lasting just 3 2/3 innings in his first start of the year, and has tossed 117 and 109 pitches in his last two starts, respectively. He'll look to bounce back from his previous start, in which he allowed five earned runs on eight hits to the Astros on Saturday.

The ability to go deeper into games hasn't necessarily translated into success, however. Noesi has a 5.66 ERA in his four starts, but he said he's happy with the progress he's made with pitching coach Don Cooper, who's helped Noesi retool his mechanics.

"It's been like 90 percent already," Noesi said of how far he's come with his mechanical adjustments. "It's pretty good and then I think I've been throwing bullpen last few days and I feel better for tomorrow, do whatever I have to do."


Yankees: Betances emerges as bullpen weapon
It is an extreme luxury to feel as though a crucial strikeout is just a bullpen call away, and that is what Girardi feels he has found in right-hander Dellin Betances.

Betances led all Major League relievers with 45 strikeouts entering play on Thursday, and has recorded 45 of his 78 outs this season via strikeout.

"That's probably why I go to him, because I do have confidence in what he's doing," Girardi said. "He's a guy that really has the ability to strike out guys and sometimes there are points in the game where that's exactly what you need."

Converted into a reliever after bouts of wildness as a Minor League starter, Betances is holding batters to a .156 (14-for-90) batting average this season.

"The more I get out there, the more confidence I have in myself," Betances said. "[Girardi] is showing that he's putting me in good situations, so I'm just trying to deliver whenever I can."


Worth noting
  • With his dominating performance in Wednesday's 3-2 win, Chris Sale recorded his 12th career game with 10 or more strikeouts, tying him for fourth on the White Sox franchise list with Alex Fernandez. Sale accomplished the feat in his 65th start, while it took Fernandez 197 starts.
  • The Sox are 7-3 in their last 10 games against they Yankees dating back to last season. Chicago has also won seven straight home games against the Bombers. 
  • The Yankees are 3-5 in their last eight games decided by two runs or fewer.
  • With a two-run single in the ninth inning of Thursday's game, Mark Teixeira has 19 RBIs in his last 19 games.

Dad stuck overseas sends a video surprise

A brave soldier deployed to Kuwait couldn’t attend his son’s NYU graduation — so he surprised him with a heartfelt video at a ceremony in Brooklyn on Friday.

Wearing a camouflage uniform and a proud look, Army Staff Sergeant Pedro Cruz Jr. told his son Pedro Cruz III, 22, of Staten Island he may be 6,317 miles away — but he’s right there with him “in heart and spirit.”

“He said he’s proud of me and that he loves me. It’s wonderful. I didn’t expect this at all,” said Cruz, a civil and urban engineering major, who hasn’t seen his dad in person for seven months.

He added, “He’s all the way overseas … He wanted to be here but we had to make the best of the situation.”

In the video — which came just in time for Memorial Day weekend — the military man salutes his son, saying he wishes he could be there in person.

“Hey son, surprise. Right about now you should be on stage picking up your degree. I wanted to be the first to congratulate you on this special day. I really wish I was there with you but unfortunately I’m not,” Cruz said.

He adds, “I have seen you grow so much in the last four years. It really amazes me. I am so proud,” he said while standing in front of a military helicopter at Camp Buehring in Kuwait.

The soldier then offers his son some life advice.

“I want you to take this special day and enjoy yourself. Don’t think about tomorrow. Enjoy today, take it one day at a time… I love you. I salute you, my son.”

The video message prompted a big grin from the graduate, who was decked out in a cap and gown.

NYU staffers pulled Cruz aside right after he received his diploma at Barclays Center and showed him the video on an iPad, which he watched with headphones.

The proud papa also arranged to have an American flag flown to honor his son at his base camp in Kuwait.

On Friday, he gave his son plaque that proclaims, “We will not waiver; we will not tire and we will not fail. Peace and freedom will prevail.”

It’s unclear when the military man will return home but the two talk frequently, Cruz said

“I love him and I salute him and I love him, too.” the grad said.

“He’s a very outgoing guy, loving father, very popular and loves his country,” he said.

He added he had no clue his father had been planning the sweet surprise.

“I thought I’d just go right back to my seat with everybody else,” he said.

Cruz plans to go into the construction industry, saying it’s his version of “the American dream.”

His father coordinated the surprise with help from the United Service Organizations and NYU officials, he said.

Weekend Bridge and Street Closures – May 24-26

One of four lanes on the Williamsburg Bridge eastbound to Brooklyn will be closed on Saturday from 6 am to 12:30 pm to facilitate NYCDOT bridge maintenance.

Mulberry Street between Canal Street and Broome Street and Hester Street between Mott Street and Baxter Street will be closed Friday, Saturday and Sunday from 5:30 pm to 9 pm for the Little Italy Pedestrian Mall.

Washington Square East between Waverly Place and West 4th Street will be closed Saturday and Sunday from noon to 6 pm for the Washington Square Outdoor Art Exhibit.

The following locations in Brooklyn will be closed Saturday, Sunday and Monday from noon to 8 pm for the 37th Annual Dance Africa Bazaar:
  • Ashland Place between Hanson Place and Fulton Street
  • Lafayette Avenue between Flatbush Avenue and Fort Greene Place
  • Hanson Place between Ashland Place and St. Felix Street
  • Rockwell Place between Lafayette Avenue and Fulton Street

Lexington Avenue between 57th Street and 42nd Street in Manhattan will be closed on Saturday from 11 am to 6 pm for the 17th Precinct Community Council Lexington Avenue Spring Festival.

The following streets in Manhattan will be closed on Sunday:
  • Lexington Avenue between 42nd Street and 34th Street will be closed from 11 am to 6 pm for the 13th Precinct Community Council Stuyvesant Park Neighborhood Association Fair.
  • Broadway between 72nd Street and 86th Street will be closed from noon to 5 pm for the 27th Annual Livable West Side Festival.

The following streets in Queens will be closed from noon to 5 pm for the United Veterans Day Parade (Maspeth):
  • Grand Avenue between 72nd Street and Maspeth Avenue
  • Maspeth Avenue between Grand Avenue and 61st Street
  • 61st Street between Maspeth Avenue and 56th Drive
  • 56th Drive between 61st Street and Perry Avenue
  • Perry Avenue between 56th Drive and LIE Service Road
  • LIE Service Road between Perry Avenue and South Side of Queens Midtown Expressway Service Road
  • Queens Midtown Expressway Service Road between LIE Service Road and Grand Avenue
  • Grand Avenue between Queens Midtown Expressway and 69th Lane

The following streets in Queens will be closed from 1 pm to 3:30 pm for the College Point Citizens Memorial Day Parade:
  • 28th Avenue between Ulmer Street and College Point Boulevard
  • College Point Boulevard between 28th Avenue and 26th Avenue
  • 26th Avenue between College Point Boulevard and 120th Street
  • 120th Street between 26th Avenue and Graham Court
  • Graham Court between 120th Street and College Point Boulevard
  • College Point Boulevard between Graham Court and 5th Avenue
  • Poppenhusen Avenue between 5th Avenue and 119th Street

The following streets will be closed on Monday:

6th Avenue between 14th Street and 23rd Street in Manhattan will be closed from 11 am to 6 pm for the Chelsea Reform Democratic Club 6th Avenue Festival.

Liberty Street between Broadway and Trinity Street in Manhattan will be closed from 11 am to 6 pm for the Chabad of Wall Street Community Fair.

The following streets in Brooklyn will be closed from 11 am to 6 pm for the United War Veterans Memorial Day Parade:
  • 3rd Avenue between 87th Street and Marine Avenue
  • Marine Avenue between 3rd Avenue and 4th Avenue
  • 4th Avenue between Marine Avenue and 101st Street

Broadway between Crescent Street and 47th Street in Queens will be closed from noon to 6 pm for the Broadway Merchants Professional Association.

Rockaway Beach Boulevard between Beach 130th Street and Beach 90th Street will be closed from noon to 2 pm for the Memorial Day Parade.

Cypress Avenue between Myrtle Avenue and Madison Street and Myrtle Avenue between 71st Street and Cypress Avenue in Queens will be closed from 11 am to 1:30 pm for the Allied Veterans Memorial Day Parade.

Northern Boulevard between Great Neck Road and Alameda Avenue in Queens will be closed from 2 pm to 4 pm for the Little Neck & Douglaston Memorial Day Parade.

The following streets in Queens will be closed from 11 am to 2:30 pm for the Howard Beach Memorial Day Parade:
  • Coleman Square between 159th Road and 159th Avenue
  • 159th Avenue between Coleman Square and 100th Street
  • 100th Street between 159th Avenue and 157th Avenue
  • 157th Avenue between 100th Street and 157th Avenue
  • 157th Avenue between 100th Street and 99th Street
  • 99th Street between 157th Avenue and 159th Avenue
  • 159th Avenue between 99th Street and 98th Street
  • 98th Street between 159 Avenue and 160th Avenue
  • 160th Avenue between 98th Street and 102nd Street
  • 102nd Street between 160th Avenue and 159th Road
  • 159th Road between 102nd Street and Coleman Square

Father Capodanno Boulevard between Sand Lane and Greeley Avenue on Staten Island will be closed from 9 am to 1 pm for the Staten Island Advance Road Race.

Forest Avenue between Clove Road and Marianne Street on Staten Island will be closed from noon to 3:30 pm for the United Staten Island Veterans Parade.

The times listed for closures for street fairs are for the actual times of the street fairs themselves. The streets may be closed longer to allow for set-up and breakdown. Street fair organizers are generally permitted to begin set-up at 8 am and breakdown must be completed by 7 pm.

Detailed information on weekend street closures will be available on the DOT web site at: http://www.nyc.gov/html/dot/html/motorist/wkndtraf.shtml.

D-backs look to get payback vs. Mets

It's been only a little over a month since the D-backs and Mets played each other, but when the teams take to the field in Flushing on Friday night for the opener of a three-game weekend series, they will be two squads that have gone a long way -- in opposite directions -- in that short time.

Mets fans might remember the mid-April series as a high point on the young season. The visitors' starters -- Zack Wheeler, Jenrry Mejia and Dillon Gee -- limited host Arizona to two runs in 18 1/3 innings while the likes of Carlos Torres and Kyle Farnsworth finished games. The Mets took what is their only three-game series sweep of the season.

Now, Gee is hurt, Mejia is the closer, Farnsworth is in Houston and the Mets are four games below .500 and losers of six of their last eight contests. They did, however, salvage a series against the Dodgers with a 5-3 win on Thursday. The D-backs, 9-22 at the end of April, are 9-9 and had won four of their five series this month before getting swept by the Cardinals this week. Arizona has benefited from its starting rotation stabilizing, and earlier this week it hired Tony La Russa as chief baseball operator.

If you think Terry Collins might manage with a little more urgency as a result of his team's struggles, think again. That's not his style.

"The players are going to feed off of it. If you start to panic, they start to panic," Collins said. "[Thursday] there might be people who think putting Eric Campbell in left field is a panic move. It's not. This guy's swinging the bat really, really good and he's going to face a pitcher that's really, really good. I'm just riding that hot horse at the moment.

"We're trying to do some stuff, but as I told some of the guys, this is when you find out if you can play here. Grind this out, get through it, and when we start swinging the bats and we got hot, we'll be back on the horse. We're not playing good and we're five games out. That can be made up real fast, especially in our division."

Right-hander Bartolo Colon (5.34 ERA, 1.34 WHIP) is next up to help the Mets get back on the horse. He has been inconsistent this season, his ERA jumping from 4.50 in April to 6.39 in May, but Colon has good numbers in three starts at Citi Field -- a 3.15 ERA while fanning 18 and walking just one.

Colon will try to build on his eight innings of two-run ball against the Nationals on Saturday.

He'll match up against the D-backs' Chase Anderson, a right-hander who was 9 years old during Colon's rookie season. Anderson, like the Mets, fell victim to the Dodgers recently -- yielding five runs in 5 1/3 innings -- and he has been touched up for six runs on nine hits and three walks in 10 2/3 Major League innings. Anderson made the jump straight from Double-A Mobile earlier this month.

Despite recent improvements, the D-backs' rotation still allows more runs per game (5.23) than any other team in the Majors.


Mets: Niese smacks Mets pitchers' first extra-base hit
When Jon Niese sent a Zack Greinke fastball to the right-center field gap Thursday night to momentarily give his team the lead, it was the first time in 73 at-bats the Mets received an extra-base hit from a pitcher.

The phrase "automatic out" is not much of an exaggeration when it comes to the Mets' No. 9 spot.

Niese's double was also just the third hit overall from Mets hurlers, the other two singles off the bat of rookie Jacob deGrom.


D-backs: Ross and the bat toss
D-backs outfielder Cody Ross is notorious for not being able to hold onto his bat. When the team was in Chicago recently to play the White Sox, Ross swung and missed at a pitch and the bat landed past third base in foul territory.

"I don't know if my grip is too loose," Ross said. "It's kind of a weird deal. I'll tend to throw it in the stands or at the pitcher or at the ball. I've done all those this year."

It actually paid off for Ross on Wednesday as he threw his bat at the ball and wound up with a single to center.

"I barreled it," Ross said with a laugh.


Worth noting
  • Mets shortstop Wilmer Flores has hit in five of his last six games, batting .364 (8-for-22) with a .440 on-base percentage in that stretch.
  • Colon has allowed more home runs (nine) than walks (six) this season. 
  • D-backs outfielder A.J. Pollock, the reigning NL co-Player of the Week, is hitting .377 since May 4.

Ray Rice’s ‘apology’ was a complete debacle

OWINGS MILLS, Md. — Ray Rice’s effort at damage control Friday didn’t appear to control much of the damage.

Speaking for the first time since being arrested for knocking his fiancee unconscious at an Atlantic City casino in February, a tearful Rice provided plenty of self-pity to go along with his apologies during a 10-minute afternoon “press conference” at the Ravens’ practice facility here.

Rice, a New Rochelle native who starred at Rutgers before becoming a three-time Pro Bowl running back for Baltimore, declined to take any questions from the overflow crowd of media and made at least one inappropriate analogy during his prepared statement.

“Sometimes, you will fail,” Rice said as his now-wife, Janay Palmer, sat stone-faced by his side and his mother and infant daughter watched from the audience. “But I won’t call myself a failure. A failure is not getting knocked down, it’s not getting up.”

But “knocked down” is exactly what Rice did to his wife Feb. 15 at Revel Casino in an ugly incident caught on security cameras. Rice, 27, also was taped dragging his unconscious wife out of an elevator.

Rice was later charged with third-degree aggravated assault, but prosecutors earlier this week allowed him to enter a pre-trial intervention program reserved for first-time offenders. Rice can have the assault charge dismissed if he completes the one-year arrangement.

Rice, though, still faces the possibility of a suspension by the Ravens or NFL commissioner Roger Goodell for violating the league’s conduct policy.

Rice apologized to the team, his fans and “the kids” — conspicuously leaving out his wife — before touting the value of the counseling he has received since the incident.

“Though we know that no relationship is perfect, me and Janay want the world to see what counseling has done for us,” Rice said, who added the he and his wife have become “better parents … better lovers and also better friends throughout the situation.”

Rice also acknowledged the toll the incident has taken on his personal marketing efforts.

“I know many of my supporters and sponsors acted as they don’t want to be in partnership with me, and that’s my fault,” Rice said. “I take full responsibility for that. One thing that I do know is that I’m working every day to be a better father, a better husband and just a better role model.”

Palmer, who was initially ticketed by Atlantic City police along with Rice for simple assault-domestic violence, also spoke Friday and apologized — apparently for provoking Rice to punch her.

“I do deeply regret the role that I played in the incident that night, but I can say that I am happy that we continue to work through it together,” Palmer said. “I love Ray, and I know he will continue to prove himself and gain the respect he built up.”

Ravens owner Steve Bisciotti, coach John Harbaugh and GM Ozzie Newsome didn’t attend Rice’s press conference Friday because of what the club said were “other commitments,” but the team has offered vocal public support for its star back since the incident.

Rice said Friday he hopes to return the favor.

“Hopefully, one day I’ll gain back everyone’s trust to let you know we’re still the same people and I’m still the same person,” Rice said. “I really treat my job as a very special job, and I failed miserably. But I wouldn’t call myself a failure, because I’m working my way back up.”