Carroll: Overlooked Brook

(Neil Miller/Sportsday Wire)

It’s hard not to feel a little sorry for Brooklyn Nets center Brook Lopez. Yes, he earns millions of dollars and gets to live a lifestyle that anyone who ever played a pickup game of basketball in a schoolyard could only dream about. He can also be proud of the fact that he is one of the best big men in the National Basketball Association.

Now for the downside.

With Nets point guard Jarrett Jack is lost for the rest of the season with a knee injury, Lopez is the only player on the Nets roster who could probably start for most of the other NBA teams. He is basically wasting his talents for a team that will be extremely hard-pressed to win 25 games.

A number of Nets beat writers wrote how unfair it was that Lopez, in spite of what seems to be a career year for him, was not named to be a member of the East team at last Sunday’s NBA All-Star Game in Toronto. The reality is, to paraphrase a line made famous by Alec Baldwin’s character in the classic 1992 film, “Glengarry Glen Ross,” that coffee is for closers and All-Game roster spots are for players on teams with playoff aspirations.

A number of current and former Mets and Yankees showed up as per tradition for the annual Thurman Munson Dinner that has raised in excess of $14 million for organizations that assist individuals with cognitive disabilities.

Mets closer Jeurys Familia was one of the honorees. He told the press that he was obviously disappointed about how things turned out in the 2015 World Series. I asked Familia if he was concerned that there might be a team letdown playing games in April after having played so deeply into the post-season. Familia vigorously shook his head no and said that there was no chance of that happening.

Yankees catcher Brian McCann also got an award at the Munson event. The Yankees certainly have a stacked bullpen with Aroldis Chapman joining Andrew Miller and Dellin Betances and I joked with McCann about how relief pitchers are often like divas and frequently get very upset when their roles are altered. I mentioned to him about how the Washington Nationals imploded after they obtained Jonathan Papelbon at the July 31st trade deadline to replace their already effective closer, Drew Storen. “The Yankees corporate culture is different. When players come into our clubhouse they know that the only thing that matters is winning and that individual ego issues won’t be tolerated,” he replied.

Retired Yankees pitcher Jim Abbott, who grew up in Flint, Michigan was also a speaker. He was understandably upset about how his hometown’s water supply was allowed to deteriorate over the years and how state politicians stood idly by. “When the American automobile industry declined starting in the ‘70s, so did Flint.,” stated Abbott glumly.

It’s always been three strikes and you’re out in baseball. The same can be said for players who test positive three times for banned chemical substances under Major League Baseball’s collective bargaining agreement.

Knowing that those were the rules you have to wonder what was going through the mind of talented Mets reliever Jenrry Mejia who it was revealed last Friday tested positive for the third time for having Boldenone in his system. I can understand unwittingly taking a substance once and at worst twice, but even giving Mejia the benefit of the doubt that he wasn’t trying to cheat through steroid use, I would have hired a chemist to test anything that I might ingest, including food, if I were in his position. He is now forbidden from playing in the majors permanently. It’s tragic.

Best wishes to Atlanta Falcons owner, Home Depot co-founder, and Flushing High School alumnus Arthur Blank as he undergoes treatment for prostate cancer.

An article in last Thursday’s New York Times detailed how the WNBA has been struggling as it approaches its 20th anniversary. What wasn’t mentioned was how the failure of the New York Liberty to win a championship has negatively impacted media and sponsorship interest in the league.

Track & field’s best will be competing at the 109th annual Millrose Games that will be taking place this Saturday from noon to 6PM at the Armory in Washington Heights. The highlight of the Millrose Games remains the Wanamaker Mile which traditionally draws the best sprinters in the world.

The Millrose Games were held until 2011 at Madison Square Garden but lack of sponsorship and diminishing interest from casual sports fans forced relocation to a smaller venue.

Playboy Magazine made the decision to drop its signature nude centerfold because its executives claimed that the Internet, with its countless adult entertainment sites, made it obsolete. The same argument can easily be made for Sports Illustrated ending its anachronistic swimsuit issue whose latest edition hit newsstands this week.

It was a rite of passage for adolescent baby boomer males to get excited over the SI swimsuit issue since this was as close to getting hold of the fathers’ stash of Playboys as they were going to get. Nowadays there are plenty of places to see attractive young women in bikinis including watching reruns of “Baywatch.”

Don’t expect Sports Illustrated to stop running its annual mid-February special issue anytime soon however. It is still its biggest selling issue every year. In addition, Sports Illustrated is a subsidiary of Time Warner and so are cable’s Turner Entertainment cable networks. On Saturday night, TNT had an hour-long special on this year’s swimsuit edition that was produced under the aegis of the powerhouse sports and entertainment talent agency, WME/IMG which represents a lot of the models. With this type of corporate synergy, there is no way the swimsuit issue gravy train is ending anytime soon.

Sports Illustrated has even created fan fests for its swimsuit issue the way that the various professional sports leagues do around All-Star games. This year Miami Beach will host. Nashville was the site of the 2015 event while Las Vegas was the seemingly permanent home for SI’s biggest self-promotion every year before. I wouldn’t be surprised if cities bid for the SI Swimsuit Fest the way they do for political conventions and Super Bowls.

Not passing up a marketing opportunity, Sports Illustrated’s editors decided to have three different models grace its various covers: plus-size model Ashley Graham, up-and-coming fashion model Hailey Clauson, and mixed martial arts/film star Ronda Rousey. Surprisingly, SI chose not to leverage the celebrity value of model Hannah Davis who is Derek Jeter’s fiancée, by putting her on one of its covers.

Cable’s Spike TV likes to think that it is to guys what Lifetime and WE are to women. Shows as “Bar Rescue,” “Ink Maters,” “Tattoo Nightmares Miami,” “Bellator MMA,” and “Premier Boxing Champions” back that claim. Ironically the network’s most popular show, “Lip Sync Battle,” hosted by St. Albans native LL Cool J, may have more women watching it than men although it certainly has appeal to both sexes.

The show, now in its third season, is the brainchild of “Tonight Show” star Jimmy Fallon and it has A-list celebs such as Channing Tatum, Kevin Hart, and Eva Longoria as well as retired athletes Deion Sanders and Tim Tebow pantomime songs in costumed skits.

James Corden, who was a relative unknown before being picked by CBS executives to be Craig Ferguson’s replacement on “The Late, Late Show,” had to have been inspired by “Lip Sync Battle” in the creation of his now signature bit, “Carpool Karaoke.” The conceit is that Corden drives celebrities around LA as he allegedly is on his way to work. They both start singing along to the hits of that artist which always magically come on Corden’s car radio on cue.

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