Baseball, hot dogs and apple pie

Baseball used to be a holiday staple.

While you were sitting outside with a cold one, fighting with your charcoal, tossing a Frisbee or splashing in an aboveground pool, you had baseball on in the background.

Memorial Day, the Fourth of July and Labor Day revolved not around the Jersey Shore, but around baseball.

And teams not only played on Memorial Day, they usually played doubleheaders.

For those of you under 30, that meant the teams played


games while charging just one admission. Twin bills, as they were called, were vastly popular with the games-going public in the days of tail fins, convertibles, whitewall tires, and 29-cents-a-gallon premium.

For those not inclined to trek to the ballpark, a small black-and-white TV with rabbit ears and a long extension cord was all you needed.

That was then. On Memorial Day 2008, there are eight teams that are not even scheduled to play. And the Indianapolis 500 is not on Memorial Day anymore, either.

No wonder 80 percent of the populace thinks the country's off on the wrong track.

The kiss of death

Willie Randolph got the dreaded "vote of confidence" Friday, a near-certain prelude to being fired.

The embattled New York Mets manager was visited by general manager Omar Minaya, who offered what the Associated Press called a "very tepid" statement of support.

Randolph, however, admitted to reporters that his boss gave him no similar assurances in private. But the manager joked he had seen Minaya sharpening his machete.

Meanwhile, former Mets star Gary Carter injected himself into the controversy by telling SIRIUS Satellite Radio that he was available for the job and had called a Mets spokesman to say so.

That brought twin blasts from the Mets' broadcast crew. Keith Hernandez called Carter "unconscious."

Play-by-play man Gary Cohen said: "Regardless of what happens, you can't be any more indelicate or graceless than Gary Carter was in saying the things he said about being available to take over the job. I just cannot believe that Carter said what he said."


Eric Byrnes' grand slam off Tom Glavine yesterday was just the second off the Hall of Famer in his 22 seasons. In 366 at-bats against Glavine with the bases loaded before yesterday, batters hit only .249 with one homer. Montreal's Jose Vidro hit one when the 300-game winner was with the Mets, on Sept. 19, 2003. . . .

By playing in both games of a doubleheader, the San Francisco Giants' Omar Vizquel surpassed fellow Venezuelan Luis Aparicio for the most career games at shortstop in major-league history with 2,584. . . . The Rockies placed slugger Matt Holliday on the 15-day disabled list with a strained left hamstring.