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Carroll’s Column: The Starling Marte Effect

Starling Marte - Image Credit: George Napolitano/Latino Sports

NEW YORK — Lets just say, the New York Mets, who currently stand 30-30 in their first 60 games played, have had their fair share of highs and lows this season. And compared to a year ago, the Mets’ identity has completely altered. There are several aspects and factors into why… 

One reason the Mets won 101 games in 2022 was the All-Star season outfielder Starling Marte enjoyed. Unfortunately, Marte, who had suffered a fractured rib playing for the Miami Marlins in 2021, fractured his right middle finger getting hit by a pitch thrown by Pittsburgh Pirates hurler Mitch Keller last September. Marte, 34, of Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic, missed the rest of the regular season and the Mets collapsed. 

Starling Marte – Image Credit: George Napolitano/Latino Sports

He was on the roster for the Wild Card postseason series against the San Diego Padres but could not properly grip a bat. After the season, Marte had to contend with more serious medical issues. After complaining of leg pain, doctors discovered he had torn tendons near both of his groins. He wound up having surgery in November. 

It is not surprising Starling Marte has not been the offensive force for the Mets in 2023 he was in 2022. I spoke with him during batting practice last Wednesday. “I am not 100% physically, but most baseball players have to play with some kind of pain,” he said. Marte should be commended for his candor, but the accumulation of injuries is having a detrimental effect on him. He feels confident he will feel better as the season goes on. Mets fans would be wise to be patient and understanding.

Starling Marte – Image Credit: Emma Sharon/Latino Sports

My colleague, SiriusXM Fantasy Sports air personality and Flushing native Scott Engel, asked Marte about the players he idolized growing up in the Dominican Republic. Former Mets pitcher Pedro Martínez’s name quickly came up. I mentioned to him how Pedro Martinez was proud that the Dominican Republic was one of the few countries to accept Jewish refugees during World War II, a fact which many are unaware of. “He likes to tell that story and for good reason,” Marte said.  

On Wednesday morning, Mets outfielder Mark Canha, who is more likely to have a post-playing career with the Food Network than ESPN, visited Flushing’s PS 201 to discuss healthy eating. That night, Canha drove in all four runs with a homer and a double as the Mets beat the Phillies, 4-1.

Mark Canha – Image Credit: George Napolitano/Latino Sports

The following day, Canha slugged another home run to lead the Mets to a series sweep. The Mets may want to send Canha to more Queens schools for the September playoff push.    

Mets broadcaster, and Cardozo High School alum, Howie Rose threw out the ceremonial first pitch Wednesday night to coincide with his surprisingly realistic bobblehead which was given out to fans in honor of his Mets Hall of Fame induction three days later.      

Howie Rose during 2023 Mets Hall of Fame ceremony – Image Credit: George Napolitano/Latino Sports

Rose’s toss to catcher Francisco Álvarez was wild and bounced well before home plate. Mets television voices Gary Cohen and Keith Hernandez had some good-natured fun giving him “the business.” If it is any consolation to Howie, he was Sandy Koufax compared to the first pitch South Jamaica native Curtis ‘50 Cent” Jackson threw at Citi Field in 2014. 

Jets and Mets Connection – Garrett Wilson and Brett Baty

Stars from other New York sports teams out to Citi Field Wednesday night. New York Jets wide receiver Garrett Wilson, who was taking part in his team’s spring training sessions, came out to see his good friend, and fellow Lake Travis High School (TX) alum, Brett Baty.     

Brooklyn Nets forward and Philadelphia Phillies fan: Mikal Bridges 

Brooklyn Nets forward Mikal Bridges, who performed like an NBA superstar after he was acquired in the trade which sent Kevin Durant to the Phoenix Suns, was also on the field before the start of the game. Bridges grew up in Philadelphia and wore a Rhys Hoskins jersey in honor of the Phillies first baseman who is missing the 2023 season because of major knee surgery. 

Mikal Bridges – Image Credit: Brooklyn Nets/NBA

Bridges admitted he immediately missed the warm Phoenix winters but is happy his parents can frequently make the 90-mile drive from their home in the Philadelphia suburbs to Brooklyn to watch him play.      

Family Carpool for Tom and Patrick McCarthy in Phillies-Mets

The Phillies-Mets series gave a chance for some family carpool time for Phillies TV play-by-play voice Tom McCarthy, and his son, Mets radio pre-game host Patrick McCarthy. Both traveled to Queens from central New Jersey where they live a few miles from each other. 

Josh Harrison’s Day Off in New York City

Phillies infielder Josh Harrison took advantage of his team having an off day in New York which coincided with Memorial Day. Harrison told me he took his two daughters, who are 5 and 9 years old respectively, on a Statue City Cruise to visit a key symbol of American freedom “I hope to take them to Ellis Island when they are a little older.”             

Sarah Langs honored by Mets and MLB on Lou Gehrig Day

The Mets honored baseball television analyst and researcher Sarah Langs, Friday night, which was deemed by Major League Baseball as “Lou Gehrig Day” to mark the 82nd anniversary of his death from the muscular disease known best by the letters, “ALS.” Gehrig was only 37 years old. Tragically, the 29-year-old Langs is also suffering from ALS for which a cure has so far not been found. Langs was incredibly upbeat and inspiring in the interviews I saw her conduct on television.    

The Yankees will honor her as well on July 4 which will mark the 84th anniversary of Lou Gehrig’s “Luckiest Man” speech at Yankee Stadium. It will also serve at the second event of the 2023 H.O.P.E. (Helping Others Persevere and Excel) Week. This appropriately named week was started by Yankees vice president of media relations Jason Zillo in 2009. It remains the gold standard of baseball community service. 

Cooperstown Legends Game 

The National Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown held a ‘legends” game last month which featured players who were not marquee names although they enjoyed very respectable careers. Among the former Mets who took part were Terrence Long, Rajai Davis, Brian Dozier, and James Olney. The Hall of Fame should hold these “overlooked” old-timers’ games more often.

Rick Cerrone and Baseball Digest

Rick Cerrone, the former New York Yankees media relations director, is now the editor-in-chief of Baseball Digest, which has been in print since 1942. Baseball Digest is doing something very smart to increase subscriptions and protect its print edition in the process. Cerrone told me anyone who subscribes to the print edition automatically gets digital access to every Baseball Digest issue going back to the very first one in August 1942. 

2023 Tribeca Film Festival

The 2023 Tribeca Film Festival will be running through June 18. Sports documentaries have traditionally been a key part of it. Last year, the Jeremy Lin documentary, “38 at the Garden,” made its debut at Tribeca.

2023 Tribeca Film Festival – Image Credit: Tribeca Film/Twitter

This year’s slate includes “The Saint of Second Chances,” about baseball executive Mike Veeck, and “All You Hear Is Noise,” which looks at the lives of three athletes who are competing in the Special Olympics. LeBron James’s SpringHill productions is the company behind it.

Playfinity Makin’ Their Way into MLB? 

Playfinity (, a Norwegian technology company, has created an app which offers catching, throwing, and other fielding instructions through outdoor activity, as opposed to video gaming. The company recently signed a partnership business agreement with the Kansas City Royals.

Yankee Stadium – Image Credit: Maz Adams/Latino Sports

Norway may not sound like a place where baseball would be at the forefront of a technology company, but MLB has worked hard to popularize baseball in Europe thanks to the World Baseball Classic, and the start of a London series next year which will feature the Mets and the Phillies. 

Annual International Franchise Expo at Javits Center

The annual International Franchise Expo took place at Javits Center last week. While there were, as always, many restaurant chains looking to expand, gyms and health clubs were the “hot property” at this trade show. It makes sense as we are coming out of the COVID-19 pandemic and all of us want to be in better shape.

Annual International Franchise Expo – Image Credit: Business Journal/Twitter

Gymnasiums were one of the first businesses ordered to close when the pandemic hit full force in March 2020. As more Americans are returning to the office and have less concerns about being in proximity to people, health clubs are making a comeback.

Mark Andrews and Retro Fitness 

Mark Andrews, the chief development officer for Retro Fitness, told me why his company was able to weather COVID-19 better than some of his rivals. “We had more customers and better leases than upscale competitors such as New York Sports Club and LA Fitness who had to file for bankruptcy,” he said. Andrews said he is happy with the response the new Retro Fitness in Forest Hills has received, and the company is looking for further expansion in the world’s borough. 

Cannabis World Congress & Business Expo 

The Cannabis World Congress & Business Expo, New York’s largest trade show geared towards the world of CBD, hemp, and marijuana, has come a long way from its Cheech & Chong stoner image days. The industry is both legal and lucrative, as was evidenced by the exhibitors at Javits Center which included law and accounting firms, insurance companies, and security firms touring products to prevent cash pilfering and inventory shrinkage. Many colleges sent representatives to promote their cannabis-related fields of study including the prestigious Cornell University School of Agriculture. What was disappointing however was the scant number of companies which manufacture CBD products which reduce inflammation and reduce joint pain.

Rye Playland is Back!

If you are a fan of old school amusement parks, as opposed to resort theme parks, Rye Playland, which opened in 1928, has reopened for the summer season. I still miss Rockaway Playland on Beach 98th Street which closed in 1985.

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

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