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Carroll’s Column: First Half For Mets In The Books

Francisco Lindor - Image Credit: George Napolitano/Latino Sports

NEW YORK — There is a long way to go for the New York Mets to establish themselves back in the National League Wild Card mix — seven games out of the final NL Wild Card spot as we enter the All-Star break. 

A six-game winning streak to start off July gave the Mets a glimmer of hope as far as a playoff spot went, but it did not atone for the very disappointing first-half of the season which saw them drop to ten games under .500 at the end of June. Losing the last two games of their three-game series with the Padres, one of their rivals for one of those NL Wild Card berths, in San Diego last weekend, did not help matters. 

Manny Machado and Starling Marte in 2022 NL Wild Card series – Image Credit: George Napolitano/Latino Sports

There are many reasons why the Mets have badly underperformed. The starting pitching frequently failed to reach the fifth inning on too many occasions. Younger pitchers who the Mets are counting on for this year and the near future, David Peterson, and Tylor Megill, were awful and had to be demoted to their Syracuse AAA team. Peterson has been better since being recalled two weeks ago. Hopefully, Megill will also be back in Flushing and perform better, shortly.     

Perhaps too much was expected from senior starters Max Scherzer and Justin Verlander. Their stats are not bad, but they have not been the dominant force Mets fans were hoping they would be. In fact, some are hoping they will be moved to legitimate pennant contenders at the August 1 trade deadline in exchange for blue chip prospects.

Max Scherzer – Image Credit: Bill Menzel/Latino Sports

Mets fans had ample reason to despair when they learned closer Edwin Díaz (Naguabo, Puerto Rico) would be lost for a good chunk, if not all, of the 2023 after his freak leg injury at March’s World Baseball Classic. The failure of Mets general manager Billy Eppler to get a quality bullpen arm to ameliorate the loss of Díaz has proven to be a colossal blunder. Veteran David Robertson, who was signed as a free agent during the winter to be Díaz’s 8th inning setup man, has done a respectable job as the closer, but he was showing fallibility in recent weeks. Fellow veteran Adam Ottavino, as per custom, gave up too many home runs. There has been a plethora of awful relievers such as Jeff Brigham, Dennis Santana, Vinny Nittoli, Jimmy Yacabonis, and Josh Walker.   

Adam Ottavino – Image Credit: George Napolitano/Latino Sports

The Mets offense was nothing to write home about either. Pete Alonso has morphed into a current version of Dave Kingman as he belted tape measure home runs, but also struck out far too much, and has a pathetic batting average. Starling Marte needs to end his feeble at-bats. Jeff McNeil looks nothing like the batting champion he was in 2022.  

On the positive side, Francisco Lindor (Caguas, Puerto Rico) who started out ice cold, now resembles the perennial All-Star he was when he played for Cleveland. Catcher Francisco Alvarez (Guatire, Venezuela) has shown he can hit for power and call a solid game.

Francisco Álvarez – Image Credit: Bill Menzel/Latino Sports

The Mets need a strong start coming out of the break, which is not how things have gone for them in recent years.

A Draw in Queens: NYCFC and Charlotte FC 

New York City Football Club, which normally plays their home games at Yankee Stadium, took on Charlotte FC at Citi Field last Wednesday, because the Yankees were in the Bronx playing the upstart Baltimore Orioles.  

NYCFC has struggled this season and would not make Major League Soccer’s playoffs if the season were to end now. They needed to beat the expansion Charlotte team to move up in the standings but had to settle for a disappointing 1-1 tie. 

NYCFC vs. Charlotte FC at Citi Field – Image Credit: NYCFC/Twitter

New York’s professional soccer team returns to Citi Field on Sunday, July 23, to play Atlas, a team from Guadalajara which plays in Liga MX. This is a match which is part of the Leagues Cup, a series of games between teams from MLS and Liga MX.    

Joey Chestnut and Nathan’s Hot Dog Eating Contest

Inclement weather did not stop Joey Chestnut, America’s greatest athlete, from winning the most prestigious title in sports, the Nathan’s Yellow Mustard Belt for the sixteenth time. Even though he was not at his best as he only scared down 62 hot dogs in ten minutes, well off his world record, he easily outdistanced his nearest rivals, Geoffrey Esper and James Webb, by double-digit dogs. 

While Joey Chestnut has become a household name, the real fun at the Nathan’s Hot Dog Eating Contest is listening to the comedic styling of announcer George Shea. Wearing his trademark straw hat, Shea is the ultimate carnival barker who would be an ideal professional wrestling announcer. 


Speaking of professional wrestling, last Friday night’s WWE card at Madison Square Garden was a homecoming for Thea Trinidad who is better known by her ring stage name, Zelina Vega.

WWE Smackdown at MSG – Image Credit: The Garden/Twitter

Trinidad grew up in Queens Village and attended IS 109 before moving to Suffolk County. WWE officials are optimistic Trinidad will soon be a headliner in the women’s ranks the way Charlotte Flair, Becky Lynch, and Bianca Belair currently are.

Spurs’ Julian Champagnie shines in NBA Summer League

While most turned into ESPN last Friday night to watch Victor Wembanyama’s NBA Summer League debut, the real star for the San Antonio Spurs was former St. John’s Red Storm guard Julian Champagnie who scored 20 points and led the team in assists. Champagnie spent most of last season playing for the Delaware Blue Coats of the NBA G League. He is hoping to make the Spurs roster this season.     

Brooklyn trades Joe Harris to Detroit — Nets Social Media Team Pays Tribute

It was a nice touch of the Brooklyn Nets to pay tribute to their longtime guard Joe Harris on social media after trading him to the Detroit Pistons. Harris was always giving of his time to community groups and nonprofits and was always accessible to reporters.

Harris was a fine three-point shooter, but always seemed to lose his touch once the playoffs got underway. After seven seasons, the Nets and Harris felt a change of scenery was in order. 

Nets team up with Webull

The Nets are teaming up with online brokerage firm, Webull, to offer a free seven-part financial literacy course for New York City high schools. This is a terrific idea. It would be a better one if the Nets and Webull can make this course available to all online. 

NBC’s 4th of July Fireworks Show

NBC smartly chose Long Island City’s Gentry Plaza State Park as its base for the entertainment portion of the two-hour Macy’s 4th of July Fireworks show. In a nice nod to the world’s borough, NBC had St. Albans native LL Cool J and Hollis’s Ja Rule perform.

Beach Boys Channel Set To Return To Sirius XM — (Channel 104)

SiriusXM has brought back the Beach Boys Channel (Channel 104) for the month of July. As has been the case in the past, you can hear the hits, album cuts, and unreleased recordings, as well as commentary from the band interspersed between the music. 

A major asset for SiriusXM is the number of different music channels you can listen to online through its app. Frankly, there is a lot of overlap, but that is all right. What I do not get is the absence of a ‘60s deep charts channel which would feature singles from the Billboard charts which you do not hear on their “60s Gold” linear channel (Channel 73). The 1960s were a very fertile time for popular music, and not just rock. There is a deep reservoir of catchy music which is not getting airplay.

The Eagles announce “The Long Goodbye Tour” 

Eagles: The Long Goodbye Tour – Image Credit: Eagles/Twitter

The legendary rock band, the Eagles, have announced they will be embarking on “The Long Goodbye Tour” which the group claims will be a farewell concert series. Opening for the Eagles will be Steely Dan. The bands will perform on September 20 at UBS Arena. 

Concertgoers enjoy a great night of music, but the passings of the Eagles’ Glenn Frey, and Steely Dan’s Walter Becker, who grew up in Forest Hills, detract from the enjoyment. 

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

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