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Carroll’s Column: Díaz Out For 2023 Season

Edwin Díaz - Image Credit: George Napolitano/Latino Sports

NEW YORK– Throughout the last week or so, we’ve heard the debates and arguments between players participating in the World Baseball Classic or deciding to skip out, and remain in Spring Training. But, many, if not all, have not mentioned the simple fact that in any sports contest, the unfortunate aspect of risk for injury comes about. 

Mets fans woke up last Thursday morning to the dreadful news their team’s closer, and arguably the best in the majors, Edwin Díaz, had to be taken off the field of Miami’s loanDepot Park in a wheelchair following an on-field celebration of Team Puerto Rico defeating the Dominican Republic in the World Baseball Classic. 

X-rays taken the following day revealed Diaz had suffered a torn patella in his right knee. It required surgery and he would miss the entire 2023 season. Timmy Trumpet’s “Narco,” which became famous as Díaz’s entrance music, will not be heard at Citi Field until 2024 at the earliest. 

Needless to say, many of the Flushing faithful were calling for the abolition of this tournament which is sanctioned by Major League Baseball in the hopes of growing the game worldwide and is played every four years. 

While I understand the negative visceral reaction, Díaz’s knee injury did not occur in the game, but rather, seems to be an unfortunate fluky occurrence. He was just jumping up and down when his knee gave out, which makes you wonder how sound his right knee was to begin with. Mets fans would have more of a right to be perturbed if Díaz had gotten hurt because his teammates mobbed him, as what happened to the Angels’ Kendrys Morales when he hit a walk-off grand slam home run against the Seattle Mariners in 2010. Morales’s season ended at that moment, as he needed surgery to repair his leg because of careless exuberance.   

There has been discussion of moving future World Baseball Classics from March to November following the completion of the World Series. This is a reasonable idea, and not just because it would give more time for players to recover from any injuries incurred from the WBC.

Giant ball with WBC logo outside Marlins stadium. (Photo Latino Sports)

Spring training is a time when players need to work on fundamentals with their teammates for the upcoming season. Baseball fans, who are spending big bucks traveling to Florida or Arizona in March, want to see all of their heroes. In addition, it would be fun to be able to watch bonus baseball in November, as opposed to March when most American fans care about their teams, and not the countries playing in the WBC. 

No one can replace Edwin Díaz, but the Mets appear to be rather thin in the bullpen with their best closing options being long-in-the-tooth warhorses Adam Ottavino and David Robertson. Mets general manager Billy Eppler has to regret the minimum, if that, effort he made to retain Seth Lugo who became a free agent at the end of the 2022 season. Lugo signed a two-year deal with the San Diego Padres.

Seth Lugo – Image Credit: Bill Menzel/Latino Sports

While Lugo was far from infallible, he was competent, and generally got the job done. Mets fans would feel a lot better if he were still in the bullpen.

RIP Joe Pepitone – 1960’s Yankees Star and Brooklyn Native

I was saddened to learn of the passing of 1960s Yankees star and Brooklyn native Joe Pepitone at the age of 82 last week. While he was not the icon Mickey Mantle or Roger Maris were, Pepitone was a fan favorite because he was relatable as he flew in the face of the stodgy Yankees corporate image of that time. 

Joe Pepitone – Image Credit: MLB/New York Yankees

His 1975 autobiography, “Joe, You Coulda Made Us Proud,” is right up there with Jim Bouton’s “Ball Four” as a delightful behind-the-scenes look at big league life. Pepitone humorously admitted some jealousy towards Angels pitcher Bo Belinsky who was known for socializing with Hollywood starlets as Mamie Van Doren. “Let Belinsky date the beautiful girls. Someone has to date the ugly ones!” Pepitone wrote. OK, he used a different verb for “date” in his book. 

Bergen County Fight Night 3 presented by Abella Boxing Promotions – Saturday April 1 in Paramus, NJ – PPV Available for $24.99

Bergen County Fight Night 3, Saturday Night April 1 at The Terrace at Biagio in Paramus, NJ – Image Credit: Abella Boxing Promotions

Boxing promoter Scott Abella has done a good job holding boxing cards featuring local fighters from the metropolitan area. A week from Saturday (April 1), Abella will have a night of boxing at Terrace & Biagio’s Restaurant in Paramus, New Jersey. Bergen County Fight Night 3 includes a seven-fight card: four six-round bouts and three four-round bouts. 

One of the pugilists will be Ridgewood’s Raymond “The Scientist” Cuadrado who will be fighting in a super featherweight bout. Cuadrado, who attended Queens Metropolitan High School in Forest Hills, told me he got the nickname “The Scientist” from friends when he was 13 years old. “I had crazy hair and wore glasses!” he told me with a laugh. 

Raymond “The Scientist” Cuadrado – Image Credit: @thefightphotos via Instagram/Abella Boxing Promotions

Queens Chronicle’s Gregg Cohen named Recipient of Good Guy Award 

Congratulations to Queens Chronicle production manager Gregg Cohen who will be receiving the “Good Guy Award” from the Metropolitan Basketball Writers Association at their 90th annual dinner slated for April 27 in Tarrytown. In addition to his duties at the Chronicle, Gregg serves as the communications director of the MBWA. 

The traditional highlight of the MBWA dinner is the announcement of the Haggerty Award which is bestowed upon the best college player in the greater New York area. St. John’s center Joel Soriano is certainly a contender for it.

Vision Expo held at Javits Center

The annual optical industry trade show, Vision Expo, was held at Javits Center last week. Athletic performance eyewear continues to be a growth segment and optical companies were pitching sunglasses for specific sports. 

Liberty Sports was a pioneer in creating shatterproof glasses for athletes. Its RecSpecs division was known for its “Fred Flintstone” glasses which were most famously worn by 1980’s Cincinnati Reds third baseman Chris Sabo. Liberty’s newest sunglasses line is Recoil, which is designed for hunters and those who enjoy skeet shooting. WileyX’s Omega WX sunglasses are being marketed to those who like to fish, both for recreation and for a living. Major League Fishing star Jacob Wheeler is a WileyX spokesman. Oakley’s NXTLVL, with its sturdy frames and yellow lenses, is geared towards video gamers, although an Oakley spokesperson told me they are ideal for anyone who sits in front of a computer screen for any length of time. 

Golfers require top of the line optical ware to both follow drives and approach shots, as well as be able to read greens. Revo’s Air 2, with its lightweight titanium aviator lenses and photochromic lenses, are ideal for golfers, as well as for drivers battling highway glare. Another choice in this high-end market is Oakley’s Prizm Road Black sunglasses.  

Zyloware, which got its start in Long Island City in 1923, celebrated its centennial at Vision Expo. NBA legend, and current TNT “Inside the NBA” air personality, Shaquille O’Neal has expanded his optical line with Zyloware. Shaq’s March Madness duties prevented him from appearing at the Zyloware booth, but another athlete who is an optical entrepreneur, NFL linebacker Jaylin Smith, did make a stop.

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

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