Carroll: Wright’s Balky Back Blues

As down as Mets fans must have felt watching their team get swept in Pittsburgh by the Pirates this past weekend, which occurred just about ten days after they lost four straight in Chicago to the Cubs, it was nothing compared to how they felt hearing that third baseman David Wright was suffering from spinal stenosis.

David played the first two weeks of the season before being placed on the disabled list for a hamstring injury. He seemed to be recovering from that just fine but last week he started complaining about lower back pain and all planned baseball activities were quickly suspended.

Fans of our Flushing heroes have understandably learned to anticipate the worst and many have speculated that the Mets captain may have played his last game. This kind of pessimism is not warranted quite yet. I have a feeling that Wright will be able to play again but that he will have to deal with chronic back pain for the rest of his career. Swinging a baseball bat and fielding ground balls can only create more stress on a balky back.

One can’t ignore the financial aspects of the worst-case scenario of Wright’s back issues. The Mets are obligated to pay David more than $100 million between now and 2020. Considering that the Mets, even with Wright’s sizable contract, are in the bottom third of all Major League Baseball teams when it comes to payroll in spite of playing in the nation’s largest market, it would seem highly unlikely that the team would invest serious money in another third baseman given the huge balance sheet liability created by the long-term guaranteed compensation to Wright.

Considering that Wright’s contract includes deferred income annuity provisions that run through 2025, a buyout by Mets team owners is highly unlikely. In short, Mets fans will still feel as if they are feeling the fallout from Mets CEO Fred Wilpon’s dealings with Madoff Securities. Then again it could be argued that the Mets have continued to act in financial exigency mode even though team officials have claimed that the Madoff mess is behind them.

Mets fans wanting to recall more upbeat times should check out two new books.

“Numbers Don’t Lie-Mets” (Triumph Books) by veteran sports scribes Russ Cohen and Adam Raider uses key numbers such as Tom Seaver striking out 19 San Diego Padres in a 1970 game and 92 appearances by relief pitcher Pedro Feliciano in 2010 as a way of creating a fun, breezy history of the Amazins.

In “Game Of My Life” (Sports Publishing) author Michael Garry interviews current Mets as Daniel Murphy, David Wright, and Dillon Gee, as well as past players as Eric Hillman, Ron Swoboda, Ed Charles, and many others to get their recollections of their greatest day wearing a Mets uniform.

The Mets sponsored a trip to the American Museum of Natural History last Wednesday for students from Corona’s IS 61. Making the trip as well was Mets closer Jeurys Familia who was impressed with the number of large dinosaur fossils that were on display. Of course you could make the argument that ageless Mets starter Bartolo Colon might have been a better Mets representative for a trip to a museum that specializes in ancient artifacts.

Speaking of Colon, he struggled with his stuff on Memorial Day but luck was on his side. With the bases loaded and one out in the fifth inning, Ryan Howard launched a shot that appeared to have home run written all over it. The Flushing Bay tradewinds must have been blowing in because Mets centerfielder Juan Lagares caught it at the 408 mark in dead centerfield. The Phillies tied the game 3-3 but if Howard’s ball had traveled two feet farther it would have been 6-3 Phillies.

It surely must have happened before but I can’t recall a weekend when both the Mets and the Yankees were swept in three-game weekend series as was the case this past Friday, Saturday, and Sunday when they were annihilated by the Pirates and Rangers respectively.

The Yankees set the bad tone of things to come when their ace Michael Pineda gave up seven runs in the third inning to the Texas Rangers last Friday evening. To his credit, Pineda kept his composure and did not give up a run in any other inning that he pitched and was able to give manager Joe Girardi six complete innings. In spite of their bumbling, the Yankees rallied and just fell short by a score of 10-9.

I guess that Knicks president Phil Jackson must have known what he was doing when he decided to bypass last Tuesday’s NBA Draft Lottery and instead let Steve Mills represent the team on the stage at the New York Hilton where the event was taking place. Statistically the Knicks had the best chance of getting the second pick in next month’s NBA Draft. Instead the ping-pong balls conspired against them and they wound up with the fourth pick. There was derisive laughter from the audience and Mills’ bemused expression captured the moment perfectly. As the late country singer-guitarist Jerry Reed once famously sang in 1971, “Where you’re hot, you’re hot; and when you’re not, you’re not!”

While there isn’t a clear franchise-changing player in this year’s draft a la LeBron James or Shaquille O’Neal, the Knicks would have gladly taken either Karl-Anthony Towns from the University of Kentucky or Duke center Jahlil Okafor. The Los Angeles Lakers, who always seem to have the NBA gods on their side even when suffering through a rare bad season, will have the second pick in the NBA Draft.

Spike TV, which will televise Friday’s Amir Khan-Chris Algieri fight from the Barclays Center did not miss a cross-promotional opportunity with the fighters as they took part in that cable network’s most popular show, “Lip Sync Battle” as they mimicked St. Albans’ native LL Cool J’s “Mama Said Knock You Out.”

Sirius XM’s Seventies on Seven channel played a lot of hit songs from that decade under the banner of “songs that you’ve nearly forgotten” during Memorial Day weekend such as “My Girl Bill” by Jim Stafford and “Runnin’ Away” by Sly & The Family Stone. It was a lot of fun but it made me wonder why they don’t play these terrific tunes in their normal rotation. Hey, there is only so much “Born To Run” and “I Will Survive” a man can take.

Kudos to cable’s IFC for hosting a Monkees marathon on Memorial Day. During Memorial Day weekend, IFC showed uncut versions of classic comedy films as “Animal House” and “Fast Times At Ridgemont High.”

On Thursday NBC will begin televising “Aquarius,” its miniseries on Charles Manson and the Tate-LoBianco murders that took place in the summer of 1969. In early 2016 FX will air its miniseries on LA’s other famous celebrity homicide trial, “The People vs OJ Simpson,” that features John Travolta, David Schwimmer, and Cuba Gooding, Jr. as OJ.

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