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Carroll’s Column: Mets trade Max Scherzer to Texas

TRADE: Rangers acquire Max Scherzer from Mets for Luisangel Acuña (Texas' third-ranked overall prospect) - Image Credit: Simon Lisenblatt/Latino Sports

NEW YORK — The trade machine is on in Queens. At this point of the baseball season, the New York Mets have looked themselves in the mirror and decided on what their next moves are — trading away certain key-names from the 2023 roster to build towards next season and beyond… 

Mets first baseman Pete Alonso succinctly summed things up when he was approached by the media Saturday night for his reaction to the Mets dealing future Hall of Fame pitcher Max Scherzer to the Texas Rangers following an 11-6 loss to the Washington Nationals. “It is shocking. If they can trade someone with a no-trade clause in his contract, then they can trade anyone!”    

Pete Alonso, recipient of 2019 NL LatinoMVP Rookie Award – Image Credit: Bill Menzel/Latino Sports

Scherzer had created headlines the night before when reporters asked him about the trade of closer David Robertson to division rivals, the Miami Marlins, for A-ball minor league prospects infielder Marco Vargas and catcher Ronald Hernandez. “I am going to have a conversation with ownership and management about the future direction of this team,” he replied to a surprised media.

His statement did not go over well with fans, and obviously, ownership. It would have been different had a beloved long-tenured Mets player (think David Wright if he were still active) made a request for a seat at the table when it came to organizational decision-making. Even though Max Scherzer will have a plaque in Cooperstown soon, he was only with the Mets for two years.

Max Scherzer – Image Credit: Emma Sharon/Latino Sports

There may be a defense for Scherzer’s Friday night chutzpah. He was obviously worried about playing for a team which did not see itself as a World Series contender either this year or next. Scherzer has also long been a public face of the Major League Baseball Players Association, and he surely received many texts from veteran players on other MLB teams who were concerned Mets owner Steve Cohen might be morphing into a penny pincher reminiscent of the Wilpon family, the Mets’ former overseers. 

The players have ample reason to be nervous. It is bad enough the Mets, with their $345 million payroll, are one of the great disappointment stories in sports history, but compounding matters is the fact long-time rebuilding and low payroll teams as the Cincinnati Reds, the Miami Marlins, and the Baltimore Orioles are all having terrific seasons.    

Steve Cohen meets with the media at Citi Field – Image Credit: Bill Menzel/Latino Sports

None of this is lost on Steve Cohen. At his late June press conference, he admitted the Mets farm system is in shambles. He blamed the Wilpons for its deterioration. The only way to achieve sustained success in baseball is through a strong minor league system.

SNY analyst and former Mets general manager Jim Duquette, who is a veteran of trade deadlines, said the Rangers and the Mets had worked out the deal where Scherzer would go to Texas for top-tier minor league infielder Luisangel Acuña before last Friday night. Even though he had a no-trade clause, Max has long been vocal about the need for all team owners to do their utmost to win.

Three-Time Cy Young award winner Max Scherzer – Image Credit: Simon Lisenblatt/Latino Sports

He would have looked like a hypocrite if he turned down the trade. He will also save millions by working in income tax-free Texas.                      

New Yankees Books Out Now!

The New York Yankees are the most famous franchise in American sports history, and there obviously have been a plethora of books written about them over the years. This summer has been no exception, as three new titles have hit the shelves of bookstores.       

Longtime Yankees mlb.com beat writer Bryan Hoch, has authored “62″ (Atria Books), which reviews Aaron Judge’s incredible 2022 season in which he belted sixty-two homers. Yes, the focus of this book is obviously about Judge, but Hoch smartly interweaves anecdotes about his manager Aaron Boone, his teammates, especially Nestor Cortes and Giancarlo Stanton. Hoch painstakingly details the off-season pursuit of Judge, who was a free agent, by the San Francisco Giants, who enlisted Stephon Curry and Barry Bonds to recruit him.

62 by Bryan Hoch – Image Credit: Simon and Schuster

The 1998 Yankees were arguably the best baseball team ever. Even opposing players predicted they would have a parade down the Canyon of Heroes midway through that season. YES Yankees analyst and former New York Times sportswriter Jack Curry marks the silver anniversary of that team with his latest book which is simply titled “The 1998 Yankees” (Twelve). Yes, Curry touches David Wells’ perfect game, and Derek Jeter’s postseason heroics, but he also devotes pages to contributors who may have been forgotten a bit such as Chuck Knoblauch, Scott Brosius, and Shane Spencer.    

The 1998 Yankees by Jack Curry – Image Credit: Barnes and Noble

When it comes to being connected to everyone, the closest anyone will get to actor Kevin Bacon is former Yankees PR director Marty Appel. He proves that yet again in his latest book, “Pinstripes by the Tale” (Triumph Books). Appel is a marvelous storyteller, whether it be describing riding next to Caroline Kennedy Schlossberg and her children on the “D” train and refraining from conversing with them so they can preserve their privacy, to being asked by then-Yankees GM Gabe Paul to listen in as he breaks the news on the phone to Bobby Murcer he has been traded to the Giants for Bobby Bonds, to Lou Piniella and Catfish Hunter arguing late at night about how to pitch to American League hitters. 

Appel was also the PR director for WPIX, which just celebrated its 75th anniversary, more than a decade. He shares fun anecdotes about preacher Oral Roberts and hard-boiled newscaster Bill Jorgensen. 

HBO debuts two-part documentary about Oscar de la Hoya — The Golden Boy

Last week, HBO debuted its two-part documentary, “The Golden Boy,” which tells the life story of boxer Oscar de la Hoya. To say it is a cautionary tale is a vast understatement. 

Raised in East LA, the handsome de la Hoya became an American hero winning a gold medal in boxing at the 1992 Olympics which led to a successful professional fighting career. The flip side was he became a womanizer, an absentee dad, and an alcohol and cocaine abuser. 

To his credit, Oscar de la Hoya does not hold back discussing the warts of his life. It is often an uncomfortable, but always riveting, watch. 

Showtime airing three-part documentary on the late NBA legend Wilt Chamberlain: Goliath

HBO’s longtime premium cable competitor, Showtime, is airing a three-part documentary on the late Wilt Chamberlain titled Goliath. For many baby boomers, Wilt Chamberlain was the most famous basketball star when they were growing up. His thunderous dunks and blocked shots, along with his rivalry with Bill Russell, helped raise the profile of the National Basketball Association, when it was a very distant third to Major League Baseball and the National Football League. 

Wilt was a well-known Republican and good friend to Richard Nixon, but he was also active in the civil rights movement. One reason for his immense popularity was he could hobnob with anyone from Ronald Reagan to Hugh Hefner.      

His reputation as a bon vivant got him into some hot water late in his life when he claimed he had slept with over 20,000 women. Some of his friends and family members who are interviewed on camera, say Wilt knew this was false, but he wanted to add sizzle to his autobiography to please his book publisher. His timing could not have been worse, as Magic Johnson had been diagnosed with HIV a few years earlier. Although the “Me Too Movement” was still two decades away, the appearance of women as playthings did not go over well with many, especially Wilt’s sisters. 

ESPN2 set to broadcast Savannah Bananas vs. the Party Animals

ESPN2 will broadcast a game between the Savannah Bananas, and their rivals, the Party Animals on Thursday, August 3 at 7 PM. The Savannah Bananas are baseball’s version of the Harlem Globetrotters, while the Party Animals are its hapless Washington Generals when it comes to winning games.      

The Savannah Bananas in action! – Image Credit: Getty Images

The Bananas are the brainchild of Jesse Cole, an exceptionally good college pitcher who was well-known to big league scouts before an arm injury wrecked his dream of playing in the majors. Being an extrovert and a showman, Cole produced the concept of combining vaudevillian entertainment with baseball. He sought out players who could credibly play the game but could also break into a song and dance routine any minute on the field. Cole acts as the ringmaster for the proceedings by wearing a garish yellow tuxedo for every game.

Documentary-Series: Bananaland available on ESPN Plus 

ESPN’s premium streaming service, ESPN Plus, has been running a documentary series, “Bananaland,” which gives a behind-the-scenes look at Jesse Cole’s troupe. Cole has just written an autobiography titled “Banana Ball” (Penguin Books) in which he details how he became baseball’s modern-day Bill Veeck.      

Untold — Johnny Football episode available August 8th on Netflix 

Untold: Johnny Football episode available August 8th on Netflix – Image Credit: Untold/Netflix

Speaking of streaming services, Netflix has a series, “Untold,” which examines athletes who have suffered a fall from grace. Its “Johnny Football” episode, which launches August 8, details how Heisman Trophy winner Johnny Manziel failed miserably in his NFL career because he preferred to party than put in the necessary work for success.

Tony Petitti named to the Sports Broadcasting Hall of Fame

Congratulations to Big Ten conference commissioner, and Far Rockaway native, Tony Petitti on being named to the Sports Broadcasting Hall of Fame. The induction ceremony will take place in December.

Wham-O set to produce limited-edition Frisbee to commemorate their 75th anniversary 

Wham-O, the company which has been making the world-famous plastic flying disc, the Frisbee, since its creation in 1948, is producing a limited-edition Frisbee to commemorate its 75th anniversary.     

More Details on Rail Explorers’ Rail-Bike Tour in Cooperstown

Last week, I mentioned how Cooperstown, best known for the National Baseball Hall of Fame, is also home to the Rail Explorers’ rail-bike tours. Even though central New York State is known for its wonderful biking trails, a Cooperstown official informed me the railbikes in question are not traditional bicycles, but rather are buggy-like vehicles which require pedaling and travel on top of old railroad tracks which no longer handle commercial or passenger trains. For more information, log onto railexplorers.net

35th Anniversary of the Discovery Channel

Cable’s Discovery Channel went all out for its famous last week of July programming, Shark Week. In honor of its 35th anniversary, Discovery hired film star Jason Momoa to serve as its host. Discovery always treats Shark Week with a sense of humor, and that was evident this year with show titles as “Raiders of the Lost Shark,” “Great White Fight Club,” and “Cocaine Sharks.”

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

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