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Carroll’s Column: Thoughts and Prayers to Kansas City

Image Credit: AP

NEW YORK — Our thoughts and prayers go out to all of those impacted in the horrific tragedy that took place during the Kansas City Chiefs’ Super Bowl LVIII victory parade at Union Station in Kansas City, Missouri. 

Last Tuesday’s shooting at the Kansas City Chiefs victory parade was a bitter reminder about how much more dangerous everyday life has become. Parades in honor of sports teams which championships have long been a part of American life. After what happened last week in Kansas City, it was easy to get nostalgic for the days when the only crime you had to worry about attending a parade in your favorite team’s honor was having your pockets picked.     

While more stringent assault weapon laws might prevent some evildoers, the reality is determined psychopaths will always get access to high-powered ammunition. I hate giving in to terrorists, but I wonder if sports team victory parades are worth it in terms of risk and reward. It might be safer to honor teams in stadiums where metal detectors are already in place. It is also easier to place law enforcement officials in a confined area than on a lengthy parade route.      

I am not advocating ending all parades. Nothing is foolproof, but it is easier to have safety plans in place for an annual event such as the St. Patrick’s Day Parade than for one which gets put together in less than 48 hours.     

Baseball Is Back! 

Spring training is underway, and that is always a time for unbridled optimism from players and team officials. It is also a time for fans to be upbeat, but they need to take things with a grain of salt.

Image Credit: Bill Menzel/Latino Sports

New Mets manager Carlos Mendoza gushed about his team’s talent and proclaimed his expectations of competing for a playoff spot. Of course, managers of horrible teams tell their fans the same thing in February.   

Another example of spring training hype is the media reporting Mets third baseman Brett Baty, who had an awful 2023 rookie season, has changed his swing. Mets SNY analyst Keith Hernandez, who knows a thing or two about hitting, complimented his level swing in the batting cage. This is meaningless flowery talk until Baty produces when the games start counting.   

Brett Baty during his 2023 rookie season – Image Credit: Bill Menzel/Latino Sports

A longstanding spring training tradition is when players who had a poor previous season cite an injury which they did not want anyone to know about as the reason. Normally, this is a canard, but that was the case for Mets shortstop Francisco Lindor.    

Last week, Lindor told reporters he felt pain in right elbow last spring during batting practice which never dissipated during the year. It had to have played a role in both his slow start in 2023, along with a disappointing .254 final batting average.    

Francisco Lindor, recipient of 2016 AL LatinoMVP Award – image Credit: Simon Lindenblatt/Latino Sports

Lindor did not tell anyone about the elbow pain until after the 2023 season. An MRI revealed a bone spur, and he underwent surgery. While his work ethic is laudable, Lindor should have Informed Mets management the moment he felt elbow discomfort    

Prime Video releases documentary on Milwaukee Bucks star Giannis Antetekounmpo

Milwaukee Bucks star Giannis Antetekounmpo is arguably the most athletic player in the NBA and is certainly one of its biggest box office draws. He is affectionately known as “the Greek Freak,” and is a two-time Most Valuable Player award winner. Prime Video has just released a documentary titled “Giannis: The Marvelous Journey.”    

Giannis: The Marvelous Journey – Image Credit: Prime Video

Director Kristen Lappas wisely does not use a third-party narrator, but instead uses Giannis, and his mom, Veronica, to tell the family’s story. Veronica, and her late husband, Charles, emigrated to Greece from Nigeria. Life was not easy for the Antetokounmpos as they faced poverty and discrimination. Things did not start looking up until Giannis, and his brothers, Thanasis, Kostas, and Alex started winning international basketball tournaments for Greek teams.     

Giannis was the Milwaukee Bucks first round pick in the 2013 NBA Draft. We can all relate to him learning how to drive and trying to find his first apartment as an adult. In a professional sports world where practically every athlete chases the highest contract, which is from teams in big markets, it is refreshing how he is determined to not leave Milwaukee.    

“The Marvelous Journey” naturally shows his greatest moments as an NBA player, including the Bucks winning the 2021 NBA championship. What makes this documentary special is when the Bucks were upset in the first round of the playoffs by the Miami Heat last year. While he was not happy, Giannis reminded all of us how losing is a part of life, and how defeat is different from failure. That is a good lesson for all of us.        

The Future for the Brooklyn Nets? 

Speaking of failure, the Brooklyn Nets have made an art form of either blowing big fourth quarter leads, or getting blown out of games, as they did last Wednesday when they were destroyed by the Celtics in Boston by a score of 136-86. I am not being facetious when I write they should draft Iowa University guard Caitlin Clark who just became the all-time highest female scorer in NCAA history. Clark will certainly be chosen by the Indiana Fever who have the first selection in the 2024 WNBA Draft.

Jonquel Jones re-signs with New York Liberty

The WNBA’s New York Liberty just re-signed one of the league’s best three-point shooters, Jonquel Jones. If the Liberty wanted to make a run at their first-ever WNBA title in 2024, it was crucial they re-signed Jones, who had been a free agent.      

The 116th Millrose Games 

The Millrose Games used to be track & field’s premier event when it was held at Madison Square Garden. The Millrose highlight, the Wanamaker Mile, was to sprinters what the Kentucky Derby still is to three-year-old thoroughbreds. Of course, that was when the event was held at Madison Square Garden.      

Millrose Games in 2006 at Madison Square Garden – Image Credit: Runner Space/Image of Sport

In 2012, the Millrose Games organizers, USA Track & Field, moved the event from Madison Square Garden to the Armory in Washington Heights in an economy move. USATF will claim it was done because the Armory had a better track, but that is balderdash.

The 116th Millrose Games were held on Super Bowl Sunday. As expected, there was negligible media coverage. Our best track stars deserve a better spotlight. USATF should return the games to a major indoor sports venue. If they can’t afford Madison Square Garden, then they should speak with officials at Barclays Center or the UBS Arena.

Super Bowl Commercial Frenzy!

The Super Bowl is as famous for its commercials as it is for determining the NFL’s champion each year. The ad which got the most buzz this year was the Dunkin Donuts spot which featured the star power of Ben Affleck, Matt Damon, and Jennifer Lopez.

Feb 5, 2024; Las Vegas, NV, USA; Helmets for the San Francisco 49ers and Kansas City Chiefs on display with the Vince Lombardi Trophy before NFL commissioner Roger Goodell speaks at a press conference in advance of Super Bowl LVIII between the Kansas City Chiefs and San Francisco 49ers at Allegiant Stadium – Image Credit: NFL

My favorite ad however was BMW’s, which featured actor, and Astoria native, Christopher Walken. The ad plot featured a typical Los Angeles day for Walken. The gimmick is that everyone with whom he interacts tries to imitate Walken’s distinct vocal phrasing. Walken feigns mild annoyance.      

CBS set to air first-ever network of a Billy Joel concert on Sunday, April 14th

CBS will air the first-ever network broadcast of a Billy Joel concert on Sunday, April 14. The two-hour broadcast will be a tape of Joel’s 100th concert of his lengthy Madison Square Garden residency which will take place next month. Expect the set list to include Joel’s current hit, “Turn The Lights Back On,” which is his first new pop song in thirty years.

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

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