Tag Archives: Baseball

Sports Star: Joseph Calandra, infielder, Channel View High School baseball team


| lguerre@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy Joseph Calandra

Follow me @liamlaguerre 

 

Name: Joseph Calandra
School: Channel View High School
Grade: Sophomore
Sport: Baseball
Position: infielder, catcher

Joseph Calandra is a sophomore baseball player at Channel View High School, and was a big reason why the team was division champs last season. Last year, Calandra led the Queens B South Division in batting with a .444 average (16-for-36), and was his team’s co-MVP. Calandra was also fourth in hits in the league, and finished third in stolen bases with 20. He plays shortstop, second base and catcher.

Besides his skills on the field, Calandra is a model student. He maintains a 94 percent average, and is one of nearly a dozen students chosen as part of the exclusive Crewlympics mentoring program in the high school. As part of the program, Calandra helps give academic and sports-related advice to students in the sixth through eighth grade, ensuring that they stay on the right track and succeed in middle school.

Calandra hasn’t thought much about which college he would like to attend, but believes that he will major in sports management, in case baseball doesn’t work out.

What are you able to accomplish as part of the Crewlympics program?
“I am able to work with other people and share my talents with others.”

Why is it important to you to help others?
“It feels good when you help someone succeed.”

Why is it significant to be good both on and off the field?
“Because good character off the field is what helped me with my game. If I’m not finishing my classes, I can’t play baseball, so I figure, let me get everything done and I’ll have no worries on the field.”

Why do you want to major in sports management?
“You’ve got to have a backup plan and I figure I could use my grades in a good way to stay around sports.”

 

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Mets to wear patch honoring late broadcaster Kiner during 2014 season


| ctumola@queenscourier.com

Photo via Twitter/@Mets

The Mets will pay tribute to their longtime broadcaster Ralph Kiner, who recently passed away, by wearing a commemorative uniform patch on the right sleeve of their jerseys throughout the 2014 season, the team announced Sunday.

Kiner will also be honored during a pregame ceremony on Opening Day at Citi Field on March 31, the Mets said. The ceremony will include a video tribute and the unveiling of a commemorative logo on the left field wall. Kiner’s five children will participate in the event.

The Mets will additionally commemorate Kiner with a display at the Mets Hall of Fame and Museum chronicling his 52 years with the team. They will also place a Kiner logo on the grass behind home plate at Tradition Field in Port St. Lucie, home to Mets spring training and the St. Lucie Mets Minor League team.

Kiner was a Mets broadcaster since the team’s inception in 1962, and called games for more than 40 seasons. Previously, he was a Hall of Fame player who spent most of his 10-year career with the Pittsburgh Pirates in the 40s and 50s.

He passed away on Feb. 6 at age 91.

-With additional reporting by Liam La Guerre

 

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Cleats 4 Kids charity raises $9K in Long Island City fundraiser


| lguerre@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy Ralph Rodriguez

More than $9,000 was raised for nonprofit Cleats 4 Kids during the 5th annual Dominican Gala at Water’s Edge restaurant in Long Island City Saturday.

Cleats 4 Kids, which collects baseball equipment for disadvantaged children in the Dominican Republic, plans to use the money to cover shipping costs. The fundraiser featured dancing, live music and raffles.

Matt Rodriguez, 19, the organization’s founder, started Cleats 4 Kids when he was 8-years-old after seeing children in the Dominican Republic playing baseball without shoes and gloves. He said the event is a testament to the growth of the organization.

“Seeing what it came from, from when I was in middle school to how it is now, it’s ridiculous,” Rodriguez said. “Now we have to throw parties to fund to ship the equipment out there. I didn’t even think in a million years we’d get enough equipment to even do that.”

Eleven years ago as a young baseball fan, Rodriguez asked his parents, Ralph and Shirley, to donate his cleats, gloves and other equipment. That kicked off the organization with full support from his parents, who were both born in the Dominican Republic and raised in Jackson Heights.

The gala was not only attended by friends and family of the organization, but also by those who donate equipment. Many of them have a shared interest for donating the gear because they hate to see children suffer to play baseball.

“Kids climb trees to get the right limb or branch for a bat, using cardboard for gloves, taking rocks with tape and socks for balls,” said David Fantin, founder of Global Sports Foundation, who flew in from Texas for the event. “When you see kids improvise, because they love to play the game, you have to help them.”

One of the major donors to Cleat 4 Kids is Beechhurst native Scott Green, president of adult baseball league, Play for the Plate.

Green was given an award from the Rodriguez family for nearly a decade of donations to youth baseball players. But to Green just a thank you would be enough.

“My dream would be somewhere down the line, if one of these kids made it to the major leagues and just said thanks to Cleats 4 Kids for giving me my first glove,” Green said. “I would be in heaven.”

 

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First Queens Baseball Convention reveals spirit of Mets fans


| lguerre@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photos by Liam La Guerre

New York Mets fans have heard this maybe a million times—they have a troubled franchise.

The team has not won a World Series in nearly three decades, and have been disappointing in the last five years as they have struggled just to stay above .500.

That’s just scratching the surface of issues, but even as frustrating as that has been, the spirit of Mets fans is alive and well, and was strongly represented by more than 400 fans at the first-ever Queens Baseball Convention (QBC) Saturday.

“It’s pretty exciting. We may not be in the playoffs every year, but it’s cool to see everyone, and the spirit of Mets fans,” said Andrew Hermida, an illustrator, who was selling his original Mr. Met drawings at the QBC.

The event, which was at McFadden’s bar in Citi Field, was organized by a trio of die hard Mets fans—Shannon “Shark” Prior and Keith Blacknick, the pair behind blog site Metspolice.com, and The 7 Line clothing brand founder Darren Meenan.

The premise was simply to celebrate the past figures of the franchise, a hopefully fruitful future, and just being Mets fan–and there was plenty for fans to do. Wearing orange and blue shirts, jerseys, caps, socks, shoes, and jackets, the Mets faithful played games, enjoyed Mets trivia, bought parts of the old Shea Stadium and Mets memorabilia, paraded in their jerseys, and talked about the past and the upcoming season.

“Hundreds of people paid $35 to celebrate a team that hasn’t won anything in years. It’s like some weird cult,” said Mets fan and comedian Jeff Hysen, who was the event’s MC.

Parents attended the QBC with their children, who brought their children, as generations of fans were present. The kids tried their hand at a dunk tank and got their faces painted.

The event surely attracted many fans for its guest speakers, which included former players Ron Darling and Ed Kranepool, members of the Mets 1986 and 1969 World Series teams respectively.

The former players signed autographs for fans, and had question-and-answer sessions. Even Darling, who is now a baseball broadcaster, was astounded at how much love fans showed their troubled franchise.

“You guys never give up,” Darling said about Mets fans during his forum. “I don’t know how you do it.”

That’s because to some, being a fan isn’t about winning.

“Sports is not about winning, it’s about enjoying the sport. I don’t think it’s exciting to be on the winning team every year. You have to have something to play for,” said Heidi Springer of Greenpoint, Brooklyn, who attended the event with her husband and two sons.

The first QBC attracted a strong crowd, many of whom said they would like to see the event return. Organizers did say they would like to make it an annual event, but are just happy for the turnout of the first QBC.

“The good part about it is everyone that’s involved in it is a Mets fan,” Meenan said. “It’s really a team effort.”

 

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Queens native to host youth baseball clinic


| lguerre@queenscourier.com

Photos courtesy of Anthony Iapoce

A Queens native is hoping to establish a new baseball culture in the borough to foster more skilled players.

Anthony Iapoce, currently a hitting coordinator with the Chicago Cubs, has two decades of professional baseball experience playing and coaching with various teams. He will host his first youth baseball clinic on Saturday, December 14 at Fitzgerald Gym at Queens College from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.

“The most important factor in the camp is just being influential to the kids and teaching them the right fundamentals when it comes to the game,” Iapoce said.

The camp is the first in a series he hopes to expand before introducing a borough-wide clinic for coaches to learn advance drills and network.

Iapoce, who is a native of Astoria, grew up playing baseball in Queens. He played Catholic Youth Organization baseball at St. Joseph’s parish, and later at Monsignor McClancy Memorial High School in East Elmhurst.

After playing college baseball for Lamar University in Texas, he played for 11 years in the minor leagues with the Milwaukee Brewers and the Florida Marlins (now Miami Marlins), where he compiled a .273 batting average in 845 games and reached Triple-A– the highest level before the major league.

After he stopped playing baseball, he became a coach in the Marlin’s minor league system and then a hitting coordinator with the Toronto Blue Jays. Last year, he received a call from the Cubs to provide hitting guidance for their minor league players. Having traveled around the country for a long time, he recently moved back to Queens and is excited about establishing a camp in his hometown.

“This is a huge deal for me, because it’s the first camp I’ll do where I’m from,” Iapoce said. “It hits the heart pretty good. It gives you goosebumps just talking about it.”

His clinic at Queens College will be limited to about 35 players so that he can give more personal attention to each participant. Iapoce and fellow minor league coaches and players will focus on improving the youngsters’ fundamentals and mechanics in all positions. He hopes to create the coaches’ clinic based on the success of the camps.

“What we are trying to do in Chicago is create a winning culture in the minor leagues,” Iapoce said. “We are trying to create this culture of teaching in Queens, more importantly to the coaches.”

For more information about Iapoce’s baseball clinic, contact him at 347-351-5233 or click here. The camp cost $145 for one player or $125 per player for a group of five and is open to boys and girls from ages nine to 13.

 

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Singers compete in Mets annual Anthem Search


| lguerre@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photos by Liam La Guerre

O say can you sing?

The New York Mets hosted the first round of their 2014 Anthem Search on Thursday to find the person who will sing the national anthem at opening day next year.

More than 150 contestants auditioned for the position, giving 60 seconds of their best vocals to a panel of judges.

“It’s the Mets version of American Idol,” said Gary Apple, an SNY broadcaster and judge of the competition. “I think it’s great for the Mets and baseball.”

This year’s Anthem Search is the first time the winner will be allowed to sing on opening day. Past winners choose dates throughout the season to sing.

Many talented singers saw the opportunity as a way to bolster their future singing goals.

“It would be an honor to sing in front of many people and represent the Mets and it would be really challenging and add to my experience in singing,” said 13-year-old Victoria Labban, a resident of Richmond Hill, who has sang at the Apollo Theater in Harlem.

Mets officials said contestants will be called soon after the auditions and be informed if they have made the cut.

The judges gave singers encouragement, but were also tough, because they said performing the anthem in front thousands of fans requires someone who wouldn’t choke up, forget any words, and of course sing well.

“There were definitely some people who should have gone to work and not come here today,” said Skeery Jones, a judge and radio personality for Z100.

In the second round Mets staff will determine a single winner, who will sing in 2014 opening day on March 31, when the Mets host the Washington Nationals.



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Connecticut man arrested for threatening Mets


| ctumola@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/File photo

A Connecticut man has been charged for allegedly making threats against the New York Mets.

Aryn Leroux, 42, of West Haven, was arrested Wednesday for making threats against the baseball team’s players, coaches, executives as well as Citi Field, according to the AP, and charged with misdemeanor threatening and breach of peace.

He reportedly made the threats through Twitter.

 

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Mets’ Matt Harvey to undergo elbow surgery, miss 2014 season


| lguerre@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of The New York Mets

As if not making the playoffs wasn’t bad enough for Mets fans, the team announced Friday that rookie sensation Matt Harvey will undergo Tommy John surgery, which will force him to miss the 2014 season.

“After further consultation with doctors, Mets pitcher Matt Harvey has elected to have surgery to repair a partial tear of the ulnar collateral ligament in his right elbow. Dr. James Andrews will perform the surgery later this month,” the Mets said.

Harvey was frequently mentioned among the league’s best pitchers during 2013, his official rookie season. He completed the season with a 9-5 record, 2.27 ERA and 191 strikeouts in 178 and 1/3 innings.

The team announced Harvey’s elbow injury following a loss to the Detroit Tigers on August 24, in which Harvey gave up a career-high 13 hits.

Despite the Mets record of 74-88 on the season and third place in the National League East, Harvey was one of the shining stars that gave fans hope for next year. Now that will have to wait another season.

 

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Mike Piazza inducted into Mets Hall of Fame


| lguerre@queenscourier.com

Photos courtesy of The New York Mets

It was a Piazza palooza at Citi Field.

The New York Mets inducted legendary catcher Mike Piazza as the 27th member in the Mets Hall of Fame on Sunday before the team played its final game of the year.

Piazza received a proclamation from Mayor Michael Bloomberg, which declared September 29 as Mike Piazza Day.

“I’m very, very proud to be a New York Met,” Piazza said. “I’m glad they took recognition and gave me this honor.”

Citi Field was packed for Piazza’s induction as many cheered for one of the franchise’s most prominent figures.

Piazza threw out the first pitch of the game to Mets captain David Wright and Piazza’s former teammates Edgardo Alfonzo and John Franco presented him with a plaque and shared some kind words.

“You were a tremendous teammate,” Franco said. “You played hurt, you played hard and you are a great guy to be around. So I just want to say congratulations from one Italian brother to another.”

Piazza is known as one of the greatest hitting catchers of all time. He has the most home runs for a catcher ever with 427, a career .308 batting average and 2,127 hits.

Piazza played 972 games for the Mets, eight of his 16-year career in MLB. He hit 220 home runs with the Mets, ranking second in franchise history, behind Darryl Strawberry (252). He ranks first in team history with a .542 slugging percentage and is third in RBIs (655). Piazza was a seven-time All-Star when he played with the Mets and set a team-record with 124 RBIs and hit 40 home runs in 1999.

Then in 2000 he finished with 38 home runs and drove in 113 runs to lead the team to win the National League Division Championship.

Fortunately the Mets won the final game of the year 3-2 against the Brewers to top off the Hall of Fame celebration, despite another year with a losing record, 74-88.

Piazza is looking forward to a time when the Mets are once again on top of the league standings. He also joked that the organization will have first crack at his son, but he won’t be cheap.

“I’ll teach him how to hit and the rest is up to him,” Piazza said.

 

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Ozone Howard Little League eight and under team wins tournament


| lguerre@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy Andy Menechella

The Ozone Howard Little League eight and under team defeated Oceanside National Little League, 7-5, in a tournament hosted by Oceanside on July 25, after an explosive comeback effort.

Trailing Oceanside in the 4th inning, Ozone Howard’s Chris Kollmer cleared the bases with a two-out double to take the lead. Following the comeback, John Sapia entered in relief for Ozone Howard and shutout Oceanside for the final three innings for the win.

The victory capped a six-game undefeated streak in the tournament.

“This was a thrilling victory for this Ozone Howard Huskies team,” said manager Andy Menechella. “This team has the heart of a lion. I’m so proud of these guys and I am thrilled to see what’s to come next for this team.”

 

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Spend the night with Mr. Met: Citi Field Sleepover announced


| lguerre@queenscourier.com

File photo

The Mets are hoping to make fans’ dreams come true— with a sleepover.

The team announced its first-ever “Citi Field Sleepover” will be on Saturday, August 10 at the ballpark. Tickets for the sleepover started to go on sale today at 10 a.m., and a presale was available yesterday for Mets season ticket holders.

Only 500 tickets will be available for purchase with 1-3 tickets for $200 or $175 for 4-6 tickets.

The Mets will be playing the Arizona Diamondbacks from 8:10 p.m. and fans can watch SNY’s live broadcast of the game on the big screen in center field. Fans attending the sleepover will receive a ticket to the Mets’ Saturday, September 28 game against the Milwaukee Brewers.

The 15- hour event will include a dinner buffet in FanFest without alcoholic beverages, late night snack in the Modell’s Clubhouse and breakfast.

The stadium will open at 5:00 p.m for the sleepover. Fans are responsible for bringing any sleeping material, such as sleeping bags, pillows, blankets and tents.

Only fans with sleeping bags can sleep on the grass and those with tents will be regulated to the warning track.

For tickets go to Mets.com/sleepover.

 

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Queens’ Morning Roundup


| ctumola@queenscourier.com

TODAY’S FORECAST

Wednesday: Overcast in the morning, then mostly cloudy. High of 73. Winds from the NE at 5 to 10 mph shifting to the SE in the afternoon. Wednesday night: Partly cloudy. Low of 59. Winds from the SSE at 5 to 10 mph.

EVENT OF THE DAY: Long Island City to Old Astoria Guided Walking Tour

Official Queens historian Jack Eichenbaum will lead a walk along the East River between the Queensboro and RFK bridges. Begin at the Queensbridge Houses and head for the remnants of Old Astoria. The sights include increasingly oblique views of Manhattan’s Upper East Side from three parks, a former piano factory, a huge power plant, a big box store, the Socrates Sculpture Park, the Isamu Noguchi Museum and ante-bellum mansions. End in Astoria at the Bohemian Hall beer garden. Click here for more info or to submit an event of your own

MLB seeks to suspend A-Rod, Braun

Major League Baseball will seek to suspend about 20 players connected to the Miami-area clinic at the heart of an ongoing performance-enhancing drug scandal, including Alex Rodriguez and Ryan Braun, possibly within the next few weeks, “Outside the Lines” has learned. Read more: ESPN

Leroy Comrie includes new subway for Queens among list of projects and priorities he would champion as borough president

Talk about a pipe dream. Councilman Leroy Comrie re-launched his bid for borough president this week by dropping a stunning bombshell: he wants a new subway line in Queens. Read more: New York Daily News

Expired milk, muffins served to Queens elementary school students

For weeks, Alex Quinteros complained to his mother about something he noticed wasn’t quite right in the cafeteria at his elementary school in Queens — the fifth-grader from Flushing said one day he saw cafeteria workers give kids expired corn bread, and on another, he said an expired muffin was offered to younger students. Read more: NBC New York

Walcott raked over the coals at City Council budget hearing

New York City Schools Chancellor Dennis Walcott met with some angry and hostile comments Tuesday, as he testified at a budget hearing before the City Council Finance and Education committees. Read more: CBS New York

New York attorney general presses smartphone manufacturers to allow consumers to shut down stolen devices

State Attorney General Eric Schneiderman is leaning on the largest smartphone makers to protect customers from thieves who steal phones, scrub them clean and sell them on the black market. Read more: New York Daily News

 House panel to address sexual assaults in military

Lawmakers outraged by sexual assaults in the military are moving swiftly to address the problem, tackling legislation that would strip commanders of their authority to overturn convictions in rape and assault cases. Read more: AP

Mets players move into Long Island City luxury buildings


| editorial@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Charles Osborn

BY CHARLES OSBORN

LIC has become Citi Field West.

Several members of the New York Mets have been living in Long Island City since the start of the 2013 season, though their neighbors may have no idea.

“I really wouldn’t even know who they were if I ran into them,” said one resident of Center Boulevard.

“I watch a decent amount of sports, and I knew that some of them had places in these towers, but I am not sure I have run into any of them.”

That seems to be a recurring theme throughout the neighborhood.

Luxury condominiums that have been built less than a block from the water have attracted Mets including Mike Baxter, Justin Turner, John Buck and Jonathan Niese.

This is not the first time Mets players have decided to live close to each other.

Several players on the 1986 team — including Darryl Strawberry and Dwight Gooden — lived within a few blocks of each other in Port Washington. They often commuted down Northern Boulevard through parts of northeast Queens.

John Poalson, a resident of the building where several players currently live, thinks the location is ideal because they can walk around and enjoy some privacy.

“Really, it’s the perfect place for them,” he said. “Their commute is simple and can’t take very long, they’re in a neighborhood where probably not a lot of people bother them and they can rent a place for the season and then leave if they want.”

Poalson said he has run into a couple of players and has nothing but good things to say. He added that some of the players may stay past the end of the season.

“I remember seeing them around the building pretty frequently around the time of” Sandy, Poalson said. “They’re definitely nice guys.”

Sandy happened nearly a month after the Mets’ season ended.

 

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City unveils MLB All-Star week festivities


| tcullen@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of NYC Mayor's Office's Flickr

The 2013 MLB All-Star Game, at Citi Field on July 16, will feature a slew of events throughout the city in the week leading up and will be spread throughout the borough.

Citi Field was cited as a potential venue for the mid-summer classic since opening in 2009, with the rumor becoming official last May. This marks the second All-Star Game the city’s hosted in the last five years.

All venues attached to the game are expected to have a $191 million economic impact for the city this July, Mayor Michael Bloomberg said.

Although the game and tournaments, like the Home Run Derby, will be held in Flushing, a significant amount of All-Star fanfare will be in Manhattan – much like when the Yankees hosted the game in 2008.

Chevrolet’s Red Carpet Parade will again go through 42nd Street, with MLB Executive Vice President Tim Brosnan calling it one of the marquee events for fans. Baseball lovers, from New York or afar, will get to come within 10 feet of the game’s premier players.

Met alumns like 1986 World Series champ Mookie Wilson and late 90s legends Eduardo Alfonzo and John Franco are team ambassadors for the All-Star Game. Wilson, known for his bloop single through Bill Buckner’s legs in Game 6 of the World Series, said while he never played in an All-Star game he’s excited to represent the team during the festivities

“I’ve always enjoyed the festivities that go into it,” Wilson said. “I’m not a native New Yorker, but I feel as if I am. I can’t wait to get this All-Star game started.”

Managers this year will be San Francisco Giants Skipper Bruce Bochy and Detroit Tigers’ Jim Leyland.

The game’s logo was revealed last August, mainly resembling the traditional Mets logo and is worn on the team’s sleeve throughout this season.

Bloomberg said the city has become “the sports capital of the world,” and proceeded to list all the major events, past and future, the city has hosted.

On security, the mayor has no worries the NYPD will be successful in keeping the city safe as fans worldwide pour into the five boroughs for the game.

Ballots for the American League and National League were also released:

For Met fans:

  • First base: Ike Davis
  • Second base: Daniel Murphy
  • Shortstop: Rueben Tejada
  • Third base: David Wright
  • Catcher: John Buck
  • Outfielders: Mike Baxter, Lucad Duda and Kirk Nieuwenhuis

For Yankee fans:

  • First base: Mark Teixeira
  • Second base: Robinson Cano
  • Shortstop: Derek Jeter
  • Third Base: Kevin Youkilis
  • Catcher: Chris Stewart
  • Outfielders: Curtis Granderson, Brett Gardner and Ichiro Suzuki

CLICK HERE TO VOTE

 

 

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Queens’ Morning Roundup


| ctumola@queenscourier.com

TODAY’S FORECAST

Friday: Partly cloudy with rain showers in the afternoon. High of 52. Winds from the NNW at 5 to 10 mph. Chance of rain 20%. Friday night: Partly cloudy. Low of 37. Winds from the NNW at 5 to 15 mph.

EVENT OF THE DAY: Disco Inferno II

Due to popular demand, Disco Inferno is back on Friday, March 29. Resorts World will boogie down memory lane with a live concert by Tavares, Bonnie Pointer, Cory Daye and Disco Unlimited. Click here for more info or to submit an event of your own

New York State Assembly passes $141.3 billion budget for 2013-14

The Assembly on Thursday gave final passage to a $141.3 billion state budget. Read more: New York Daily News

Deal reached on paid sick leave in NYC

New York City legislators, labor advocates and business leaders have struck a deal on the hotly contested issue of paid sick leave. Read more:: Fox New York/AP

Mets: Johan might miss 2013 season

Mets starter Johan Santana could miss the entire 2013 because of a re-tear in his left shoulder, General Manager Sandy Alderson announced Thursday during a conference call. Read more: The Queens Courier

Block-watch programs back in vogue as NYPD headcount shrinks

A group of concerned western Queens residents want to make sure the bad old days of crime don’t ever come back. Read more: New York Daily News

Mayors Against Illegal Guns out with new ad featuring Newtown families

Events took place around the nation Thursday as participants demand federal gun safety measures be enacted. Read more: CBS New York

Hundreds rally against proposed cuts to after-school programs

Hundreds of children rallied outside City Hall Thursday to urge Mayor Michael Bloomberg not to go through with cuts to after-school programs. Read more: NY1

North Korea readies rockets after U.S. show of force

North Korea put its missile units on standby on Friday to attack U.S. military bases in South Korea and the Pacific, after the United States flew two nuclear-capable stealth bombers over the Korean peninsula in a rare show of force. Read more: Reuters