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Carroll’s Column: Carlos Mendoza’s introductory press conference with Mets

Mets president of baseball operations David Stearns and new Mets manager Carlos Mendoza following Tuesday's press conference - Image Credit: New York Mets/MLB

NEW YORK — There was a large amount of media on hand at Citi Field last Tuesday as the New York Mets officially introduced their 25th manager in franchise history — Carlos Mendoza, a 43-year-old from Barquisimeto, Venezuela, who turns 44 later this month on November 27th. 

It is to be seen how successful a manager Carlos Mendoza will be, but he certainly displayed plenty of personality at his introductory press conference.   

Yes, he said the boilerplate stuff about the Mets’ passionate fan base, as well as being impressed with the team’s culture. The word “accountability” was liberally thrown around, as it has been at every new manager/head coach hiring press confab since Adam & Eve.   

Carlos Mendoza introduced as new Mets manager last Tuesday afternoon at Citi Field – Image Credit: New York Mets/MLB

On a more positive note, he thanked his family for giving him the chance to indulge his dreams of a Major League Baseball career, and the struggles which have come with it, speaking passionately in flawless English and Spanish. He acknowledged being the consolation prize as the Mets failed to land their top managerial choice, Craig Counsell, with good humor. He also thanked former Yankees executive Mark Newman for encouraging him to be a big-league skipper.      

Although he is technically a first-time manager, Carlos Mendoza was the Yankees bench coach the last four years, which meant he ran the team whenever Aaron Boone was thrown out of a game for arguing with an umpire. That was a frequent occurrence. Mets president of baseball operations David Stearns said he had many conversations with his Yankees counterpart, Brian Cashman, about Mendoza. You can be certain Cashman reminded Stearns of the excellent job Mendoza did as Boone’s understudy.    

A reporter asked Mendoza if he spoke with Luis Rojas about the Mets job. Rojas was the Mets manager for two years before being let go after the 2021 season. He said he had but revealed nothing else. I must assume Rojas must have mentioned some red flags. I asked Mendoza in Spanish about Rojas, but a Mets PR representative cut me off by saying he had to get to an important scheduled interview.   

Luis Rojas in a mound visit during 2020 season with Mets closer Edwin Díaz. Rojas was the Mets manager in 2020, and 2021 – Image Credit: George Napolitano/Latino Sports

Most managers get to choose their coaching staff. Mendoza announced Jeremy Hefner, who served as Mets pitching coach under both Luis Rojas and Buck Showalter, would return in 2024. Mendoza admitted he had never met, or even spoken, with him. 

He laughed when I mentioned how Hefner is the Andrei Gromyko of baseball coaches. Gromyko held many high-level foreign ministry positions from the days of Josef Stalin right up to Mikhail Gorbachev. Hefner mysteriously survives every Mets regime change. The Mets pitching was atrocious last year, and it was not just because of injuries. Two young starters the Mets were counting on in 2023, Tylor Megill and David Peterson, both badly regressed. 

Tylor Megill – Image Credit: George Napolitano/Latino Sports

Reporters kept asking Mendoza if his good friend, Willie Randolph, would be his bench coach. I would be surprised if 38-year-old David Stearns, who fired 67-year-old Buck Showalter, would bring in the 69-year-old Randolph who has not been a manager or a coach since 2011.

Gerrit Cole unanimously wins 2023 American League Cy Young Award

It was a downer of a year for the Yankees, but ace pitcher Gerrit Cole provided a bright spot by unanimously winning the American League Cy Young Award. That was welcome news for GM Brian Cashman who has faced a torrent of criticism for both the Yankees’ bad 2023, and for dropping a few naughty words with the media during last week’s MLB general manager meetings in Phoenix.     

Gerrit Cole was lights out all season long in 2023 – Image Credit: Bill Menzel/Latino Sports

Cashman made a big bet in 2020 signing Cole to a nine-year deal which exceeded $300 million. While there have been some bumps for Cole along the way, he has stayed healthy and usually pitches deep into games. I remember asking San Diego Padres pitcher Drew Pomerantz at the 2020 Padres Fan Fest at Petco Park if he thought Gerrit Cole would manage the pressures of playing in New York City. “He will thrive there!” he quickly replied. He was right.      

“Bye Bye Barry” out now on Amazon Prime

One of the great NFL mysteries has been why did one of the greatest running backs in its history, Barry Sanders, retired after ten seasons in 1998, at age 31. He was still one of the best running backs in the league.      

A new Prime Video documentary, made in conjunction with NFL Films, “Bye Bye Barry,” sheds light on why Sanders walked away when he did. Although he does not cite one specific reason, Sanders does mention fears of incurring a life-altering injury. He was also tired of his Detroit Lions being an NFL also-ran, but he did not want to change teams through free agency. His father was a huge fan of Cleveland Browns legend Jim Brown who also walked away from the game when he was at his playing peak.    

“Bye Bye Barry” shows how Sanders was able to elude NFL tacklers in a miraculous manner. The documentary also includes interviews with many notable Lions fans including Eminem.      

NBC Sports clever opening in Jets-Raiders on Sunday Night Football

It was a clever move on the part of NBC Sports to open last week’s Jets-Raiders game with snippets of the 1968 NBC special “Heidi” which starred Jennifer Edwards in the title role. Fifty-five years earlier, NBC Sports cut away from the Jets-Raiders game with two minutes to go and the Jets leading 32-29. The Jets wound up losing, 43-32. The grown-up Edwards enjoyed poking fun at the decision of NBC executives back then, and assured viewers they would get to see the entire game this night. 

Zach Wilson in Jets-Raiders Week 10 Sunday Night Football matchup in Las Vegas – Image Credit: Bill Menzel/Latino Sports

One thing remained unchanged. The Jets lost to the Raiders again, this time by a score of 16-12.   

Guilty: Jury Duty Game!

A growing segment of the leisure-time entertainment space are humorous party card games. One such game which made its debut at September’s New York International Toy Fair was “Guilty: Jury Duty Game!” “Guilty” pokes fun at social crimes such as “constantly taking selfies” and “using a fake online identity,” as well as some real-life misdemeanors such as jaywalking and driving while talking on a hand-held phone. Now if the game creators only could have produced an effective way to get out of real-life jury duty!

You can read more of Lloyd Carroll’s columns posted weekly on The Queens Chronicle.

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