NEW YORK — Over the weekend, the New York Mets were swept by their National League East division rivals Philadelphia Phillies in a four-game set, and currently stand 71-85 overall on the season with six games remaining.
The Mets have had plenty of losing seasons, of course, but 2023 is vastly different. With owner Steve Cohen financing a $445 million payroll, the highest in baseball history, combined with the Mets coming off 101 wins the previous year, expectations were understandably sky-high. And that is what makes 2023 the most crushing season in Mets history.
Yes, injuries played a huge role in things going sour in Flushing. Not having closer Edwin Díaz in the bullpen because of a freak injury celebrating a win in the World Baseball Classic badly hurt, as did losing José Quintana for the first half of the season as he recovered from having a lesion surgically removed from his rib. You can also throw in the games missed by Pete Alonso, Starling Marte, Max Scherzer and Justin Verlander because they were on the injured list.
Injuries alone cannot explain why things went so far south for a team from which so much was expected. That is why outfielder Tommy Pham’s statement to a reporter from The Athletic where he questioned the work ethic of Mets position players struck a nerve. Pham was signed as a free agent after the 2022 season, and he performed well. He was traded on July 31st to the Arizona Diamondbacks when Mets management decided to raise a white flag on the season. It should be noted Pham spoke highly of the professionalism of Brandon Nimmo, Francisco Lindor, and Pete Alonso.
Although he was with the Mets for only a brief period, I found Pham to be very impressive. He has vision issues and always carries a case of contact lenses with him. Pham is a fountain of knowledge on the difference between lenses, and he spoke to me about how the eyeball changes accommodation abilities when it comes to distance and close-up vision with aging. He could easily speak at an ophthalmology conference.
I wrote last year how the Mets rarely took outdoor pregame batting practice. This year, as a token to the fans, a few Mets have been willing to come out and take swings on the field before some games. Pham was always one of them.
Part of a player’s professional responsibility, whether they like it or not, is to make themselves available to the press. Another Mets outfielder who was dealt at the trade deadline, Mark Canha, confirmed many of his teammates eschewed outdoor batting practice because they did not want to interact with reporters who were not granted access to their clubhouse by the Mets media relations department. Tommy Pham made it his business to talk with all media.
Some Mets beat writers have told me too many players are not at their lockers during media access periods. That is an indicator of a losing culture which Mets CEO Steve Cohen had better address.
You can be certain incoming Mets president of baseball operations, David Stearns, is aware of Tommy Pham’s complaint. His first order of business is to decide if the Mets should retain Buck Showalter as their manager. Pham’s statement obviously will not help Buck assuming he wants to return to Flushing in 2024.
I was surprised at how big a deal many in the media were making about the Mets being eliminated from taking part in the playoffs after Friday night’s 5-4 extra inning loss to the Phillies in Philadelphia. The Mets played nearly the entire 2023 season as if they had been eliminated.
Although it does not get the attention spring training does, the Arizona Fall League is the place for baseball fans to see the top minor league prospects get in extra work. It has quietly become a tourism boon for the Grand Canyon State. The Mets top selection in the 2022 MLB Draft, catcher Kevin Parada, will be playing for the Glendale Desert Dogs.
MJF in AEW Main Event Match at Arthur Ashe Stadium
It was a nice touch by All Elite Wrestling champion, and Plainview native, Maxwell Jacob Friedman, better known simply by his initials, to wear Mets-inspired wrestling attire during his main event match against Samoa Joe at Arthur Ashe Stadium last Wednesday evening. It was televised nationally on TBS.
Canelo Alvarez vs. Jermell Charlo in Las Vegas this coming Saturday September 30th
There is an intriguing middleweight boxing championship bout this coming Saturday night as Canelo Alvarez will meet Jermell Charlo in Las Vegas. Both men have headlined boxing cards for years. It will air on Showtime Pay-Per-View.
ESPN Radio New York relinquishes their spot on 98.7 FM, starting at the end of August in 2024
New York Post sports media columnist Andrew Marchand broke the story last week that WEPN (ESPN Radio New York) will relinquish its spot at 98.7 FM dial at the end of next August. Good Karma Brands, which oversees the distribution of ESPN’s radio content in many markets, does not want to pay Emmis Communications, the owner of that spot on the dial, $12.5 million in “annual rent.”
Karma is hoping just having an AM presence at 1050 on the dial, along with being able to be heard on both the Internet and vocal-assisted devices, will be cost-effective as far as the bottom line is concerned. Good Karma Brands CEO is Craig Karmazin who is the son of media mogul, and Long Island City native, Mel Karmazin.
Monday Night Football on ABC and ESPN?
ABC Television will be simulcasting ten “Monday Night Football” games which would normally only be seen on ESPN. The double whammy of actors and writers strikes have forced broadcast networks to find alternative ways to fill primetime hours. Legendary ABC “Monday Football Voices” Howard Cosell, Frank Gifford, and “Dandy” Don Meredith must be smiling somewhere above.
Fallout pertaining to Rolling Stone Magazine founder Jann Wenner in recent interview
Rolling Stone Magazine founder Jann Wenner has always seen himself as the arbiter of what is cool and hip, and what isn’t. Last week he put his foot in his mouth in an interview with the New York Times when promoting his new book, “The Masters,” which details his conversations over the years with rock royalty Pete Townshend, Bono, John Lennon, Mick Jagger, Bob Dylan, Jerry Garcia, and Bruce Springsteen. When he was asked why Black and female artists were not included in his book, Wenner belittled many of pop music’s biggest names.
The fallout was immediate. The Rock & Roll Hall of Fame Foundation, an organization he created and controlled, immediately kicked him off its board of directors. It is no secret Wenner despised musical artists who merely made great, fun records, but never fit his definition of cool.
It will be interesting to see if such worthy performers as Paul Anka, Neil Sedaka, Johnny Rivers, Freddy Cannon, Chubby Checker, Lesley Gore, Connie Francis, Paul Revere & the Raiders, Tommy James & the Shondells, Jan & Dean, and so many more will now finally be allowed to grace the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame ballot for possible induction.
State of Poland Foundation set to plant 300 apple trees all over the five boroughs of New York
In a celebration of friendship between our two countries, the State of Poland Foundation held a press event to announce the planting of three hundred flowering apple trees all over our five boroughs. The confab is tied in with Poland’s Jablonki Festival which celebrates the fall apple harvest.
You can read more of Lloyd Carroll’s columns posted weekly on The Queens Chronicle.
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