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Carroll’s Column: Smith Suspended 10-Games For “Sticky Stuff”

Drew Smith and Mets manager Buck Showalter walk back to dugout in Game 1 of Subway Series at Citi Field - Image Credit: Bill Menzel/Latino Sports

NEW YORK — Although there was no Aaron Judge and Pete Alonso in the lineup, last week’s Subway Series at Citi Field had plenty in store for New Yorkers and baseball fans across the nation. Especially, when it comes to the topic of MLB’s rules on sticky substance checks… 

The Mets season has been plagued by a plethora of mental and physical errors. Last Tuesday, in the first game of the Subway Series, it was on full display when relief pitcher Drew Smith was tossed from the game before even throwing a pitch. The umpiring crew claimed Smith was using sticky substances on his hands and glove which were not in accordance with Major League Baseball rules. 

Smith saw how his teammate, pitcher Max Scherzer, was suspended for 10 games earlier this season for that infraction, and undoubtedly heard about Yankees pitcher Domingo Germán getting that same sentence. As bad as not being able to play for 10 games is, the penalty extends to the team because MLB prohibits allowing a replacement to be called up from the farm system. 

This meant the Mets bullpen, which has been taxed all season because of the ineffectiveness of the team’s starting pitching, would have to face even greater stress. While he has never lived up to the expectations the Mets had for him when he was obtained in a trade with the Tampa Bay Rays for Lucas Duda in 2017, he could at least eat up some innings when Mets starters had to be removed sooner than manager Buck Showalter would have liked. That was certainly the case this past weekend when the Mets dropped two of three games with the disappointing St. Louis Cardinals.  

Buck Showalter – Image Credit: Bill Menzel/Latino Sports

As expected, Smith denied any wrongdoing when meeting with the media after Tuesday night’s game in which the Mets blew a 5-1 lead and wound up losing to the Yankees. Pitchers who are caught using sticky substances are less likely to accept blame than Jamaica Estates native Donald Trump is for any wrongdoing. 

Smith did raise one fair point as he told the press that there is no standard for measuring what is, and is not, acceptable when it comes to allowable hand and glove aids. It is up to each umpire’s discretion, which means it is unfairly subjective. Life is not fair. Smith should have realized risk and reward did not equate before applying anything on his hands and glove.

One Mets player who has missed a lot of action, and has been overlooked, is outfielder Tim Locastro, who injured his right thumb sliding into third base last month. He required surgery and is on the 60-day injured list. Locastro is a good contact hitter, has speed, can play stellar defense, and rarely makes mental mistakes.      

Remember to avoid I-95 in Northeast Philadelphia if you are going to any of the Mets-Phillies games at Citizen Bank Park this weekend.

Mets-Phillies at Citizens Bank Park in 2022 – Image Credit: Latino Sports

A better bet is take I-295 or the NJ Turnpike to the Walt Whitman Bridge. Ironically, I-95 in NE Philly has been under constant construction since I was a little boy. And that’s a long time ago. 

Tribute to Jim Turner and Homer Jones 

Baby boomer fans of the Jets and Giants were reminded of the passage of time last week, when news came of the passings of Jets Super Bowl place kicker Jim Turner, and one of the greatest receivers in Giants history, Homer Jones. Big Blue was awful in the late 1960s, but Homer Jones was one of the bright spots for Giants fans back then.

“The Worst Team Money Can Buy”

Thirty years ago, Bob Klapisch and John Harper authored a book famously titled, “The Worst Team Money Can Buy.” Given the way the Mets season has gone, it is not surprising it has been widely discussed on social media. I saw both men last week and asked whether they had considered writing a sequel.

The Worst Team Money Can Buy Book Cover – Image Credit: Bison Books

 “I am gratified by the legacy of our book, but I don’t see us writing another one. With the advent of multiple wildcard playoff slots, every team has a shot. Our book looked at the dismantling of those terrific late ‘80s Mets teams and what life was like for competing beat writers,” Klapisch said. “We are no longer beat writers, so that would make it tough,” Harper added. 

Oakland A’s Fans Pull Off Reverse Boycott

You must give credit to Oakland A’s fans for showing up for engineering a reverse boycott. Over 27,000 fans bought tickets for a midweek game against the Tampa Bay Rays for the sole purpose of verbally eviscerating team owner John Fisher. Under Fisher’s aegis, the A’s have rid themselves of most of their quality players and yet raised ticket prices.

Earlier in the month, Fisher announced he would be relocating the team to Las Vegas. 

Craig Carton Leaving WFAN

As soon as the New York Post’s Andrew Marchand broke the story of Craig Carton leaving his drivetime gig at WFAN to concentrate solely on his more lucrative Fox Sports1 morning cable show, WFAN management had Carton go on the air with his partner, Evan Roberts, to confirm his departure.    

WFAN Sports Radio – Image Credit: WFAN New York

A couple of days later, WFAN announced Tiki Barber would be leaving his midday show with Brandon Tierney to become Roberts’s new partner. Roberts has been playing the role of straight man to the loud Carton. He will have to now switch to the role of provocateur if his show with the former Giants running back is to succeed. 

WPIX Celebrates 75th Anniversary

Last Thursday, WPIX celebrated its 75th anniversary with an hour-long special. Even though it no longer has broadcast rights to Yankees games, segment co-hosts Marc Malusis and Nelson Figueroa, who helm PIX’s “New York Sports Nation Nightly,” showed highlights of great Bronx Bombers moments on the station, including Roger Maris’s 61st home run in October 1961. Of course, legendary Yankees shortstop and broadcaster Phil Rizzuto received a big tribute. 

Tribeca Film Festival – “Rolling Along” and “Open Heart” 

The final days of this year’s Tribeca Film Festival featured documentaries on Knicks legend and former New Jersey US Senator Bill Bradley titled “Rolling Along,” as well as “Open Heart,” about the greatest goaltender in Rangers history, Henrik Lundqvist. Expect MSG Network to show both within the year.

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

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