NEW YORK (WCBS 880) — New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio and the Department of Education changed guidance on reopening schools every day this week causing outrage among parents and teachers.
Neil A. Carousso produced the Week In Sound as heard on WCBS Newsradio 880 for the week ending Friday, September 18, 2020. Hear it on the media player above.
You can listen to The 880 Weekly Rewind with Lynda Lopez Friday nights at 7 PM ET for a deeper dive into the top local, national and international stories of the week, featuring interviews with newsmakers and the Week/Month In Sound audio file.
NEW YORK (WCBS 880) — Joe Biden (D-DE) accepted the Democratic Party’s nomination for President of the United States this week at a first-ever virtual Democratic National Convention with the coronavirus pandemic front-in-mind for voters and delegates.
Neil A. Carousso produced the Week In Sound as heard on WCBS Newsradio 880 for the week ending Friday, August 21, 2020, including Joe Biden accepting the Democratic Party’s nomination for president, a battle to fund the Postal Service and deep divides between parents, the teachers’ unions and politicians over reopening schools as outbreaks emerge on college campuses. Hear it on the media player above.
You can listen to The 880 Weekly Rewind with Lynda Lopez Friday nights at 7 PM ET for a deeper dive into the top local, national and international stories of the week, featuring interviews with newsmakers and the Week In Sound as heard on WCBS Newsradio 880.
By Neil A. Carousso
NEW YORK (WCBS 880) — The boys of summer are back in town, but establishments near Yankee Stadium and Citi Field are fighting an uphill battle in a comeback dampened by a baseball season without fans in attendance.
“So far, since the pandemic, my sales are down $300,000,” said Joe Bastone whose family has owned Yankee Tavern for 93 years.
On the WCBS Small Business Spotlight, sponsored by BNB Bank, Joe Connolly and Neil A. Carousso examine how the local economy is impacted by empty stadiums as Major League Baseball begins its 2020 season Thursday night with the Yankees in Washington, D.C. The Mets host the Atlanta Braves on Friday in their season opener that can be heard on WCBS 880 at 4:10 PM.
Bastone says 50 percent of his revenue is earned during Yankees home games. Patronizing his bar and restaurant is a game day routine for fans who travel from the region and throughout the country. Yanks legend Babe Ruth was known for buying a round of beer there for fans to celebrate a Bombers victory.
“It’s really devastating,” he lamented.
Yankee Tavern is only making 10 percent of what it typically earns on 161st Street. Bastone added televisions to an extended outdoor dining space with indoor dinning prohibited under state law indefinitely. He hopes people will enjoy a ballgame from his establishment beyond the right field gate.
“I just got a rent bill, which included $85,000 in real estate taxes,” he said, continuing, “I just don’t understand why we’re paying real estate taxes when the municipalities, the State and the City tell us we’re not allowed to operate.”
Bastone told Connolly and Carousso that “half” of businesses in the 161 Street Business Improvement District, which represents many of the merchandise shops and sports bars outside The Stadium, will not survive the pandemic-related shutdowns and the 2020 MLB season absent fans.
Irene DeBenedittis, third generation owner of Leo’s Latticini in Corona, Queens, is looking at the glass half full despite a grim outlook for what is typically their busy season with both the Mets in town and the U.S. Open Tennis Championships that draws millions of people from around the world every summer.
“I had the plexiglass set up for outside and we’re just doing takeout and home orders,” she said. “For now, I think it’s going well like that.”
Her grandparents started the family deli in the 1930s. Irene grew up making fresh mozzarella with her two sisters Carmela and Marie. Their mother Nancy took over the business and was beloved by her customers. But, the millions of Mets fans who came for lunch before an afternoon game at Shea Stadium and the City workers who stopped in on their lunch hour for a homemade hero did not know her as Nancy; they knew her as “Mama” – the endearing nickname that lives on since she passed away in 2009, as the deli is colloquially referred to the name of their Citi Field concession designation “Mama’s of Corona.”
“I’m proud of what we were taught – our ethics, the background,” DiBenedittis said.
It’s that positive outlook on life that is getting her through this crisis.
“You have to appreciate what you have and work for it,” she said.
Irene told Joe and Neil that she is operating her Queens deli out of love – the same unconditional love her grandparents instilled in Mama who raised three daughters in a community that saw them as family.
She said in these unprecedented circumstances, she encourages her workers to treat their customers “like yourself or your family.”
— Neil A. Carousso (@NeilACarousso) July 24, 2020
DiBenedittis says Leo’s Latticini is earning a much smaller profit amid the coronavirus pandemic between the deli and the bakery next door. The concession at Citi Field, where they sell their specialty sandwiches and Italian desserts, will remain closed this season.
“We’re doing the best we can,” she said.
Hear what a baseball season without fans means for the local economy plus stories about legendary players going out to eat on the WCBS Small Business Spotlight Podcast on the RADIO.COM app or on the media player above.
By Neil A. Carousso
NEW YORK (WCBS 880) — It’s supposed to be the day of new beginnings for baseball fans nationwide, but Major League Baseball’s Opening Day is delayed due to the coronavirus pandemic.
“I never imagined not only that it would come to this, but we don’t know what the end-game is,” said Howie Rose, the radio voice of the New York Mets on WCBS 880’s In Depth podcast.
Typically, millions of Americans who have renewed optimism funnel into stadiums nationwide to take in the sights of the freshly cut grass and painted team logo on the field, smell of hot dogs and rich ballpark food, enjoy the taste of a cold beer, embrace family, friends and fellow fans, and get goosebumps at the sounds of the pop of the glove, crack of the bat and Rose’s voice bellowing through the Citi Field public address system as he announces the Mets Opening Day lineup.
But, this is no typical year.
“This is something that a Michael Crichton novel might have been be able to forecast, but apart from that, it’s nothing that we ever could have prepared for,” Rose said regarding businesses, sports, restaurants and all group activities being shut down amid the national health crisis.
He has been taking the extra time to read at his home in Florida. A bit of a history buff, Rose is currently reading “Button Man,” a historical fiction novel written by Andrew Gross about a Jewish family brought together at the inception of the garment business in New York City in the 1930s.
“If anybody’s got any suggestions, throw ’em my way because, as we know, plenty of time to catch up on reading,” he said.
Rose recognizes baseball is not the priority for the country or the world battling a novel virus that has killed tens of thousands of people globally.
“Never mind the health risks and the primary concern being everybody’s physical condition, but how long is it going to be before we can return to any semblance of normalcy?” he pondered. “When does it mean that we have a baseball season, if we have a baseball season? My hope is that we will and my opinion is that any size or any length season is acceptable.”
Rose tells WCBS 880 his “fantasy” is that the COVID-19 pandemic will pass as quickly as it hit, and fans can come together as a nation on the country’s birthday, the 4th of July, to celebrate, and more than ever, reflect on the freedoms Americans are fortunate to have.
His famous call of Mike Piazza‘s home run in the first game back in New York after 9/11 has brought joy to Mets fans in helping the City heal. When asked if America’s Pastime can once again provide respite during a fearful time, Rose said, “I have never been so sure of anything in my life as I am of that.”
Listen to the full conversation with Howie Rose on the 880 In Depth podcast on the RADIO.COM app or wherever you get your podcasts.