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Carroll’s Column: Snowball Effect For Mets

Mets manager Carlos Mendoza takes a mound visit against the LA Dodgers at Citi Field - Image Credit: George Napolitano/Latino Sports

NEW YORK — When a losing streak or tough stretch occurs throughout a baseball season, you can always find and/or see some kind of snowball effect hit on the respective team. The New York Mets, who currently stand 24-35 overall, 11 games under .500, is just one of the most recent examples across Major League Baseball… 

The Mets were in the midst of getting swept in their three-game series with Dodgers at Citi Field last Wednesday, which was not surprising given the talent disparities of the rosters, as well as the way things had been going this season for the home team. The game was tied 3-3 going into the eighth inning. By the time the Mets came to bat in the bottom of the ninth, they were trailing 10-3, thanks to yet another implosion by their bullpen.

One of the chief culprits that day was Jorge López who lost his temper with an umpire after getting smacked around by the Los Angeles Dodgers. López was thrown out of the game, and as he approached the Mets dugout, he tossed his glove underhand high into the stands.

Things quickly snowballed. López was summoned into a meeting with Mets president of baseball operations David Stearns and manager Carlos Mendoza. López then went to his locker where he had an ill-fated Q&A with the media. 

An upset López called himself “the worst teammate in MLB,” and added a few epithets in between. SNY reporter Steve Gelbs and other reporters thought he said, “the worst team in MLB,” based on his answer to a follow-up question about his statement. López also told the press he had not yet met with the Mets’ brass when in fact he had. Within an hour, reports were emanating the Mets were going to cut him. 

Stearns and Mendoza called López’s on-field display, “unacceptable.” The funny thing is most fans on social media appreciated the fact a Mets player expressed the same frustration they have been feeling this season.

Mets president of baseball operations David Stearns and Mets manager Carlos Mendoza – Image Credit: MLB

It makes little sense Stearns, Mendoza, and many sportswriters were clutching their pearls because he provided a nice souvenir to a happy fan. They never bat an eye when a frustrated player smashes a bat or destroys a water cooler in the dugout.

Jorge López was designated for assignment that afternoon. The following morning, Boomer Esiason reported on his WFAN show that Jorge López’s young son was awaiting a medical transplant. 

It became evident the Mets mishandled things. HIPAA regulations precluded them from revealing his son’s health issues, but the Mets were aware of the stress in Jorge López’s life. They could have placed him on temporary leave the way a former team, the Twins, did a couple of years ago. 

It is hard enough to think in one language and speak in another, especially to the media under duress. The Mets media relations department should have sat López down and provided guidance on how to handle the press, including the importance of expressing remorse. To López’s credit, he did not want to use the team’s interpreter, but the Mets should have had theirs near him as insurance against misunderstandings. 

Common sense could have saved a lot of anguish. It is only natural to assume Hispanic players will be more reluctant to speak English with reporters as they will see the Jorge López incident as a cautionary tale.  Bartolo Colón never spoke to the media in English during his lengthy career.

Bartolo Colón throws out first pitch at Citi Field in 2023 on the seven-year anniversary of his first career MLB home run – Image Credit: Simon Lindenblatt/Latino Sports

I remember asking him questions by his locker in Spanish and he answered me in perfect English. 

The Boone and Mendoza Connection 

Two weeks ago, I asked Yankees manager Aaron Boone if he was in touch with his former bench coach, Carlos Mendoza. Boone did not reveal the nature of his conversations, but he said they speak nearly every other day. Last week, I asked Mendoza if Boone had given him a pep talk given the Mets’ troubles the first two months of the 2024 season. “He’s busy. I’m busy. We occasionally send a one sentence text to each other,” he harrumphed.

Aaron Boone and the Yankees currently stand 42-19 – Image Credit: Bill Menzel/Latino Sports

My guess is the Yankees’ success contrasted with the Mets’ failure in 2024 made Mendoza a bit cranky when hearing my question.

Bronx Zoo ‘90: Crime, Chaos, and Baseball – out now on Peacock 

The Yankees are playing their best baseball in years, so their fans can sit back and enjoy Peacock’s three-part documentary on when the last time the Bronx Bombers were cellar dwellers titled ‘Bronx Zoo ‘90.” The series is based on the memories of NY Post baseball columnist Joel Sherman who reminisced about the team he covered during the 2020 pandemic. 

There is no shortage of characters such as pedophile outfielder Mel Hall, and offbeat pitcher Pascual Perez who would meet a tragic ending. The bizarre interplay between owner George “The Boss” Steinbrenner, star outfielder Dave Winfield, and degenerate gambler Howie Spira is worthy of its own documentary. Steinbrenner not only belittled Winfield, but also one of the most beloved Yankees of all-time, Don Mattingly.

It is fun seeing clips of former local sports anchors Carl Cherkin, Warner Wolf, Russ Salzberg, and Len Berman commenting on the chaos in the Bronx 34 years ago.

Idina Menzel set to perform at Belmont Stakes Festival this weekend

Flushing native and Broadway star Idina Menzel will be performing this weekend at the Belmont Stakes Festival which is taking place in Saratoga since Belmont Park is undergoing a major renovation.

The Snoop Dogg Arizona Bowl! 

Hip-hop legend Snoop Dogg will be the title sponsor of the Snoop Dogg Arizona Bowl which will take place in Tucson this December. It will air on the CW Network which has quietly been beefing up its sports portfolio. 

Tribeca Film Festival Underway 

The annual Tribeca Film Festival is underway. While the complete list of sports documentaries was not released at press time, one short doc which caught my eye is “Jumpman,” about LIFE Magazine photographer Co Rentmeester who took the famous photo of Michael Jordan violating the laws of gravity as he dunked a basketball in Chapel Hill, NC.

Image Credit: Co Rentmeester

That photo led to a lengthy lawsuit between Rentmeester and Nike, who appeared to have used his work as the basis for their Jordan Brand logo without compensating him. 

Annual International Franchise Expo held at Javits Center 

The annual International Franchise Expo took place last week at Javits Center. It was not that long ago when frozen yogurt, and every gym/health club you could think of, had a booth. This year there was not a single frozen yogurt purveyor, and only two workout emporiums, Hydrogen Fitness, and the Fitness Factory. Neither is well-known, but the representative from the Fitness Factory says the company has taken over several former New York Sports Club locations and has plans to make a big footprint in Queens. 

Fast food chains, as expected, made up the lion’s share of the prospective franchisers. A spokesman for Nathan’s Famous told me rents in the New York/Long Island region have taken their toll as many of their stores have closed. SoBol, a Long Island-based company which sells healthy but fun items as acai bowls and smoothies, has opened stores in Forest Hills, Bay Terrace, and Astoria. Their rep told me SoBol plans to expand further in the World’s Borough. A representative for Krystal Restaurants, the South’s answer to White Castle, is coming to the Northeast. Former Giants wide receiver Victor Cruz will be opening one in his hometown of Paterson, NJ in 2025.

Kosher Palooza at Meadowlands Expo 

The second annual Kosher Palooza food and beverage trade show, which was open to the public, took place last Thursday at the Meadowlands Expo in Secaucus, NJ. Among the surprising facts I discovered was there is a kosher version of prosciutto, and fish which feast on shrimp can still be kosher if they have fins and scales. 

Image Credit: Kosher Palooza

Among the memorable bites were chicken franks, and fried chicken whose outer coating was comprised of baked corn flakes, and Abe’s frozen fruit pops.

On the beverage side, Frostop, a Midwest soft drink company which has been around nearly a century and is best known for its premium root beer and sarsaparilla, is trying to get into New York-area supermarkets. It’s a literal David vs. Goliath battle as they try to find space on shelves which are dominated by Coca-Cola and Pepsi products. 

For those who like less sugary carbonated beverages, the humorously named Bubala, which is based in Des Moines, IA, gave out samples of its low-calorie fruit infused sparking water.

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

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