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Carroll’s Column: Tough Mets Stretch Out of the Gate

New York Mets 2024 Opening Day at Citi Field - Image Credit: Bill Menzel/Latino Sports

NEW YORK — Major League Baseball’s 2024 Opening Week came and went with a number of franchises and fan bases receiving a warm welcome to the new season, and for others — not so much, as they have gone through a tough stretch of games out of the gate. 

​​Only a ninth inning two-run rally, in the last game of their six-game home-stand last Thursday, saved the Mets first week of the 2024 season from being an 0 and 6 disaster. SNY TV play-by-play voice, and Flushing native, Gary Cohen was as down as Mets fans can ever recall just an inning before the Amazins comeback. “The Mets have not gotten a hit in the last thirteen innings. There is no one in the ballpark. This feels like rock bottom,” he plaintively said.   

If the 2024 season winds up making Mets fans nostalgic for the disastrous 2023 campaign, they will look back to Opening Day when Milwaukee Brewers slugger Rhys Hoskins slid hard into Mets second baseman Jeff McNeil as a harbinger. It was aggressive play on Hoskins’ part, but it was not dirty. Both benches ran on the field, but nothing happened.     

The next day, reliever Yohan Ramirez threw a pitch three feet behind Rhys Hoskins’ noggin. Instead of getting angry, Hoskins laughed. He could afford to do so because he already had three hits that day, including a homer, and his team was comfortably winning. Ramirez was immediately tossed from the game by the umpires. Ramirez was suspended three games by Major League Baseball, but he exercised his rights under his union’s collective bargaining agreement and appealed the sentence. It was reduced by a game, and he served his suspension last Monday.  

New Mets manager Carlos Mendoza was also suspended for a game, which is automatic for a manager whenever his pitcher is accused of deliberately throwing at the head of an opposing batter. Mendoza knew that, but he was surprised to learn he had to serve it the next day.     

“I only found out two hours before the game I would not be allowed to manage. I was embarrassed and felt I was letting the team down,” Mendoza told the media before Monday’s game with the Detroit Tigers.     

I asked Mendoza if he felt managers and coaches need to form an association to get the same due process from Major League Baseball that players get. He was clearly not looking to become the managerial fraternity’s George Meany or Albert Shanker, as he avoided answering my question. “There was nothing I could do,” he said. I understand his desire not to make waves during his first week as a big-league skipper.   

Mets skipper Carlos Mendoza is one-of-six Latino managers across MLB – Image Credit: Bill Menzel/Latino Sports

Tigers manager AJ Hinch, who was suspended for a year by MLB for being the manager of the Houston Astros team which stole signs during the 2017 World Series, told me he has always had a good relationship “with the league,” and is not pressing for a managers and coaches union. He did not dismiss the merit of it, however. “It could help managers and coaches who receive multi-game suspensions,” he replied.       

Mets sign former Braves right-hander Julio Teheran 

Aside from a slow start, to put it kindly, the Mets starting pitching staff suffered a setback when Tylor Megill was placed on the injured list because of a shoulder ailment. The Mets were forced to sign veteran pitcher Julio Teheran who was on the Staten Island Ferryhawks roster of the Atlantic League. Teheran was a Met-killer when he was in his prime playing for the Atlanta Braves, but it is questionable how much he has left in the tank. 

Former Mets pitcher Noah “Thor” Syndergaard must be washed up if the Mets baseball president of operations, David Stearns, had no interest in him, considering desperate times call for desperate measures.      

Mark Canha’s return to Queens

Former Mets outfielder Mark Canha returned to Citi Field as a member of the Detroit Tigers on Monday. The small crowd of Mets fans showed class by giving him a nice ovation when he came to bat in the second inning. They remembered how much Canha loved being a New Yorker and was incredibly involved in community affairs. He always enjoyed signing autographs and chatting with fans, which certainly sets him apart from most baseball players.    

Mark Canha spent the 2022 season with the Mets and half of 2023 until he was traded to the Brewers at the August 1 Trade Deadline – Image Credit: George Napolitano/Latino Sports

Canha told me his old Mets teammate, catcher James McCann, who played six years for the Tigers, helped him get oriented for Detroit as he suggested the best neighborhood to live in, as well as the Motor City’s best restaurants. As many Mets remember, Mark is a noted gourmand.      

He is also a patron of the arts. Canha told me he’s looking forward to visiting the Henry Ford Museum in Dearborn, as well as Detroit’s Motown Museum.     

A Solar Eclipse with Yankee Baseball! 

The Yankees made a rare faux pas by originally scheduling Monday’s game with the Miami Marlins as a matinee. Health officials were warning for weeks about the dangers of staring at the solar eclipse. It was foolish for the Yankees to place people needlessly at risk when all they had to do was schedule the game to start after 5 PM.      

Monday’s game between the Marlins and Yankees was moved from 2:05 PM ET to 6:05 PM ET due to the Solar Eclipse – Image Credit: Latino Sports

Major League Baseball did just that last Thursday by ordering the Yankees to start the game at 6:05. You can be certain the Major League Baseball Players Association was in touch with baseball commissioner Rob Manfred. They had to have been concerned about batters stepping into the box when the eclipse was underway, and infielders and outfielders having to field balls hit in the air during it.   

Remembering and Paying Tribute to Pat Zachry, former Mets starting pitcher 

I was saddened to learn of the passing of former Mets starting pitcher Pat Zachry at the age of 71 last Friday. Zachry, though no fault of his own, was never a favorite of the Flushing faithful, because he was one of the players exchanged in the infamous June 15, 1977, trade of Tom Seaver to the Cincinnati Reds. Zachry, who was always easy to identify because of his thin frame and his scruffy beard, was a particularly good pitcher even though he was no Tom Seaver.      

RIP Joe Flaherty, a Comedy Great 

Comedy lost a giant last week with the passing of Joe Flaherty at age 82. Flaherty was a founding member of the terrific 1980s sketch comedy troupe Second City Television. His memorable characters were his TV kiddie host Dracula knockoff, Count Floyd, and irascible SCTV station manager Guy Caballero.    

40th anniversary of the tragic death of soul singing legend Marvin Gaye

The 40th anniversary of the tragic death of soul singing legend Marvin Gaye received surprisingly little media attention. Few could match his silky-smooth delivery on ballads as “Ain’t No Mountain High Enough” and “How Sweet It Is.” He could also be delightfully gruff when he felt he was getting played in a relationship as evidenced by “I’ll Be Doggone,” 

“Stubborn Kind of Fellow,” and of course, “I Heard It Through the Grapevine.” He was able to push Top 40 radio into R-rated areas the way no other performer could with 1973’s ‘Let’s Get It On” and 1982’s “Sexual Healing.” He is very much missed. 

Country music setting new trends in viewership 

Country music always gets great ratings which is why CBS has long broadcast the CMT Music Awards (hosted this past Sunday by Kelsea Ballerini in Austin, TX), while the rival Country Music Association Awards have been a November staple for ABC. You can be certain those broadcast network executives are excited about what Beyonce’s well-received “Country Carter” album will do for their viewership.       

There has long been a closer relationship between soul and country music than many realize. It would be great if the popularity of Beyonce’s latest album could lead music fans to listen to Ray Charles’ 1962 masterpiece “Modern Sounds in Country & Western Music,” and Bobby Womack’s 1976 album, “BW Goes CW.”  And let’s not forget the works of Charley Pride, the most successful Black country singer in history, who died last November. All can be found on the various music streaming services.

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

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