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Carroll’s Column: Yankees Hire Omar Minaya

Image Credit: MLB

NEW YORK– The New York Yankees have had quite the offseason, naming Aaron Judge the 16th captain in franchise history after agreeing to a nine-year/$360 million contract, paired with left-hander Carlos Rodón, joining the pinstripes on a six-year/$162 million deal. But rather than stop there, the Yankees and GM Brian Cashman added more…

Last Thursday, the Yankees announced they had hired former NY Mets general manager Omar Minaya to be an adviser to Cashman. Minaya, who grew up in Corona, Queens NY, and graduated from Newtown High School, had been a goodwill ambassador for the Mets the last three years. 

Minaya is renowned for his scouting talents. He is old school in that he trusts his eyes and instincts, as opposed to soulless analytics. Beginning his career with the Texas Rangers scouting department (1985-1997), followed by working with the Mets (1997-2002), Minaya became the first Hispanic general manager in MLB history as he was hired in 2002 by the Montreal Expos. 

Image Credit: MLB

There is certainly a place for trying to project young players’ futures from statistics, but it is certainly not the be all and end all. Given Minaya’s long history with the Mets, it behooves the question “Why didn’t the Mets make better use of his scouting talents and experience?” Minaya has told me several times over the years he has no interest in being a general manager again. Brian Cashman does not see him as a threat, and neither should have current Mets GM Billy Eppler.

Last month I wrote how the Mets were trying to make pitcher Seth Lugo, who came up through the organization and pitched well over the years, feel as if he were the late legendary comic, and Kew Gardens native, Rodney Dangerfield. They were showing him no respect when it came to retaining his services after he became a free agent at the end of the 2022 season.

Image Credit: Bill Menzel/Latino Sports

Lugo signed a two-year contract with the San Diego Padres on the day the Mets held their introductory press conference for Justin Verlander at Citi Field. I asked Billy Eppler why there appeared to be minimal effort on the Mets part to bring him back. 

“I think we had a conversation and he wanted to be a starting pitcher,” Eppler replied. The Mets wanted him to remain in the bullpen.

A source close to Lugo told me the Mets never met with him or his agent. In addition, while he would have loved to have been a starting pitcher, he was amenable to remaining a reliever if that is what the Mets preferred.

NFL: Jets Finish Season 7-10

The Jets finished up the 2022 season with six consecutive defeats to exasperate their fans yet again. This past Sunday, in Miami Gardens, both the Jets and Dolphins played horribly as Miami prevailed, by a final score of 11-6.

The good news for the Jets was their futility helped finish off the chances of old nemesis Bill Belichick and the New England Patriots to make the playoffs as they needed the Jets to beat Miami. In addition, by finishing 7-10 instead of 8-9, they will get a better slot in the 2023 NFL Draft.

Image Credit: Bill Menzel/Latino Sports

I have no idea why Jets head coach Robert Saleh played a washed-up 37-year-old Joe Flacco at quarterback instead of Zach Wilson in what was a low-stakes game since the Jets were eliminated from postseason contention last week. Wilson could have benefitted from the experience. 

Some wags on Twitter had fun with Kevin McCarthy’s struggle to muster the votes to become Speaker of the House. It took 14 unsuccessful tries before he got lucky on number 15. “McCarthy has the qualifications to be a future New York Jets head coach!” were the gist of the tweets.

Damar Hamlin, Buffalo Bills & Importance on CPR 

Buffalo Bills trainer Denny Kellington is being properly hailed as a hero for administering CPR to Bills safety Damar Hamlin after he suffered cardiac arrest after making a bruising tackle against Cincinnati Bengals wide receiver Tee Higgins. 

Image Credit: Buffalo Bills/NFL

What has not been discussed in this uplifting story is how anyone can study CPR. I remember taking a course at the American Red Cross office in Rego Park in the early 1980s. There seemed to be more attention to the importance of laymen studying it, and more places were offering courses back then. 

Clearly, the COVID-19 pandemic had a deleterious effect on CPR courses because you need to practice in person on a dummy with an instructor present. Hopefully, as we continue to put COVID-19 in the rearview mirror as a life-threatening illness, more places will offer CPR courses in light of the attention the Damar Hamlin story has received.

Staten Island Ferry Hawks

Former Yankees infielder Home Bush was named manager of the Staten Island Ferry Hawks of the Atlantic League last week. There is no word yet as to whether former Mets pitcher Nelson Figueroa will be returning as the team’s pitching coach. 

PBR – Professional Bull Riders at MSG

Brazil’s Jose Vitor Leme, a two-time Professional Bull Riders champion, won the Monster Buck-Off held at Madison Square Garden last weekend. 

Image Credit: @PBR Twitter/Professional Bull Riders

PBR celebrated its 30th anniversary at the Garden as well. Among the notables were legendary bull riders Bobby Del Vecchio, who grew up in the Bronx, and Jerome Davis, whose career came to an end 25 years ago when he lost his balance after being thrown off of a bull during a competition. 

Davis’s story, and so many others concerning PBR stars past and present, can be found in “Love & Try” (Cedar Gate Press) written by Queens Village native Andrew Giangola. 

Entertainment, Television and Music 

The end of the regular NFL season, which coincides with the start of the new year, is a time when broadcast networks introduce their mid-season primetime shows. This year’s slate includes a pair of police procedurals. 

Scott Caan, formerly of “Hawaii Five-O,” and son of the late actor James Caan who grew up in Sunnyside, stars in FOX’s “Alert,” a show about the Philadelphia Police Department’s Missing Persons Unit. Caan’s character, Jason Grant, has to team up with his ex-wife, Nikki (Dania Ramirez) who runs the MPU. Their marriage fell apart when their son, Keith, went missing six years ago, but they still hold out hope they will find him. “Alert” airs Mondays at 9pm. 

ABC’s “Will Trent” stars Ramon Rodriguez as the title character, who is a detective for the Georgia Bureau of Investigation. Trent is an offbeat investigator who will remind viewers of Peter Falk’s Columbo and Tony Shalhoub’s Monk. They always catch the guilty parties while annoying the heck out of everyone else along the way. “Will Trent” airs Tuesdays at 10pm and can be seen on demand on Hulu. 

Soft rock music of the 1970s and early 1980s is the subject of Paramount Plus’s three-part documentary, “Sometimes When We Touch.” While it is fun to see and hear the music of Dan Hill, the Captain & Tennille, the Carpenters, Ambrosia, Pablo Cruise, and so many others, “Sometimes When We Touch” feels more like one of those Time Life compact disc collection commercials than it does an insightful documentary. 

The basic theme of soft rock’s rise in the 1970s came as a counter reaction to the hard rock of the 1960s, and supposed fall in the 1980s as a result of both punk rock and the advent of MTV,  is both shallow and false. 

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

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