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Carroll’s Column: Ronny Mauricio suffers ACL injury in Winter Ball

Ronny Mauricio's first career MLB hit to deep right field against the Mariners in September of 2023 - Image Credit: Bill Menzel/Latino Sports

NEW YORK — Despite there being an offseason in Major League Baseball, a large number of players choose to remain on-the-diamond year-round, opting to participate in winter ball — and are permitted to do so by their respective ball-club, and team higher-ups. 

Mets fans have become all too accustomed to hearing devastating injury news about their favorite team’s players. They had to grit their teeth again last Tuesday when the Mets media relations department informed everyone top prospect Ronny Mauricio tore the ACL in his right knee playing winter ball in the Dominican Republic two days earlier and would require surgery. The conventional wisdom is Mauricio will miss most, if not all, of the 2024 season.      

Mets prospect Ronny Mauricio tags Mariners Julio Rodríguez (2022 AL LatinoMVP Rookie Award winner) at second base during 2023 regular season matchup at Citi Field – Image Credit: Bill Menzel/Latino Sports

The news about Mauricio immediately made the Flushing faithful immediately think back to last March when they learned baseball’s best closer, Edwin Díaz, would be lost for the 2023 season after injuring his knee during a celebration by Team Puerto Rico after a win in the World Baseball Classic. In retrospect, Diaz’s freakish injury set the tone for 2023 for the Mets.     

An argument can be made that Diaz should have bypassed playing in the WBC because he was being paid $20 million by the Mets to perform for them, and not assume a needless injury risk, Mauricio, however, has only played two months at the big-league level. He showed offensive prowess, but he also needed to learn the strike zone better as he swung at countless bad pitches. The Mets also wanted him to get experience at the various infield and outfield positions. In short, Ronny Mauricio was doing what he was supposed to do by playing in the Dominican Professional Baseball League.      

Ronny Mauricio slides in at second base against the Mariners at Citi Field in September of 2023 – Image Credit: Simon Lindenblatt/Latino Sports

Mauricio’s injury means Brett Baty and Mark Vientos will be competing for the starting third base job. While both players have long been considered jewels in the Mets farm system, they both struggled at the plate, barely finishing with batting averages above .200, and their fielding was shoddy as well. Both players had to be demoted to the Triple-A Syracuse Mets because of subpar play. Hopefully, the experiences of struggling in 2023 provided lessons on how to succeed in 2024. 

Mark Vientos and José Quintana attend annual Mets holiday party

Mark Vientos, along with starting pitcher José Quintana, were present at the annual Mets holiday party at Citi Field for kids in Queens elementary schools. I asked both players about the significant deferred income portion of Shohei Ohtani’s contract with the Dodgers. Vientos admitted he did not know much about deferred compensation, but would speak with his agent, former Mets general manager Brodie Van Wagenen, about it. Jose Quintana told me he wouldn’t make it a feature of his next contract. 

Baseball players must pay income taxes to the various  jurisdictions where their teams play. It will be interesting to see if the Dodgers or Ohtani will remit the proper amounts to states when his annual $68 million annuity starts in ten years.

The $700 million dollar man Shohei Ohtani – Image Credit: Bill Menzel/Latino Sports

One also must wonder whether Ohtani will relocate to a non-tax state like Florida to avoid giving California more tax revenue. Expect lawsuits to be filed down the road. 

2023 induction ceremony for Sports Broadcasting Hall of Fame

The Sports Broadcasting Hall of Fame, which is administered by the sports technology trade organization, the Sports Video Group, honors the career achievements in sportscasting, technology, and business leadership annually. The 2023 induction ceremony was held last Tuesday at the New York Hilton.

Former MLB Network president, and current Big Ten commissioner Tony Petitti, grew up in Far Rockaway, and he thanked his father for giving him a love of sports. “My dad was a police officer. He would buy two tickets to sit in the upper deck at Shea Stadium, but during the game he would flash his badge, and we would inevitably wind up sitting in the box seats!” Pathet said with a chuckle.

Female pioneering sports broadcaster Andrea Joyce admitted she was petrified when CBS Sports asked her to handle the play by play at some US Open matches. She thanked her partner on the telecast, Douglaston native Mary Carillo, who was present at the Hilton.   

More from 2023 induction ceremony for Sports Broadcasting Hall of Fame

Ernie Johnson, Jr., the anchor of TNT’s “Inside the NBA,” was surprised to receive his statue from unexpected guests–his fellow show panelists: Shaquille O’Neal, Charles Barkley, and Lefrak City native and Archbishop Molloy High School alum, Kenny Smith.      

Smith told me he was happy with both the sales of, and reviews for, his first book which came out last May, “Talk of Champions” (Doubleday). Smith devoted chapters to the people who influenced his life, including his late Molloy high school basketball coach, Jack Curran.     

Whitestone native, and Bayside High alum, Mike Tirico was on hand to cheer on his NBC “Sunday Night Football” partner, Cris Collinsworth, who was well-deserving of this honor. Collinsworth thanked another Sports Broadcasting Hall of Fame inductee, former HBO Sports president Ross Greenburg, for discovering him. Greenburg was impressed with Collinsworth’s thoughtful and often humorous interactions with the sporting media following Cincinnati Bengals games. He spent eight seasons (1981-1989) as a Bengals receiver.      

It should be noted that while Cris Collinsworth was an exceptionally skillful player, he was never a household name the way Tom Brady is, nor did he play for a team in a major market as Michael Strahan did. Collinsworth’s affability with the media, and his avoidance of using shopworn sports cliches, should serve as a lesson to all professional athletes who hope to have a broadcasting career when their playing days end.   

“The Football 100″ by the staff of the Athletic – Available Now 

The Football 100 – Image Credit: Wm. Morrow/The Athletic

If you are looking for a present for the NFL fan in your life, a new book, “The Football 100″ (Wm. Morrow), written by the staff of the Athletic, headed by editors Dan Pompei and Mark Sando, is recommended. The book devotes a chapter to each of the best NFL players of all-time, from Tom Brady to Dick Butkus to Don Hutson. As you can guess, there will be debate about those players who did not make the cut here, but the authors do an excellent job defending their choices in this book which comes in at 672 pages. 

Bushnell Cup Honors at New York Athletic Club – College Football Awards for Best offensive and defensive player in the Ivy League

Unlike the Heisman Trophy which only honors one winner in all of college football, the Bushnell Cup honors both the best offensive and defensive player in the Ivy League. Last Monday, in a ceremony held at the New York Athletic Club, Yale QB Nolan Grooms and Penn defensive tackle Joey Slackman were named the 2023 recipients of the Bushnell Cup. NFL scouts have followed both players. Grooms also won the Bushnell Cup in 2022 as a junior. 

Joey Slackman is from Commack, Long Island which is home to the National Jewish Sports Hall of Fame. I told Slackman his winning the Bushnell Cup should grant him automatic entry into it.   

MJF inducted into National Jewish Sports Hall of Fame

Slackman was a high school wrestler before becoming a football player. Fellow Long Islander Maxwell Jacob Friedman was a high school football star before becoming a professional wrestler. On Monday, the All Elite Wrestling champion was inducted into the aforementioned National Jewish Sports Hall of Fame. 

Remembering and paying tribute to Ken MacKenzie

I was saddened to learn of the passing of Ken MacKenzie, who was a relief pitcher on the fabled 1962 Mets. MacKenzie frequently joked he was the lowest paid member of the Yale class of ‘56 when he played for the Mets. Mets manager Casey Stengel famously told him “to pitch to opposing hitters as if they were the Harvards!”

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

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