Carroll: Asdrubal’s Absence

(Neil Miller/Sportsday Wire)

The Mets faced their first adversity of spring training when their new shortstop, Asdrubal Cabrera, suffered a sore left knee and is now questionable for the start of the season.

Cabrera’s signing was overshadowed by that of outfielder Yoenis Cespedes but the Mets made a sizable investment by inking him to a two-year, $18.5 million contract. The Mets are clearly hoping that Cabrera can hit as well as he did for the Tampa Bay Rays the second half of the 2015 season and seem willing to accept that he is not a defensive wiz.

His injury would appear to be yet another opportunity for Ruben Tejada who has had his ups and downs with Mets brass ever since he replaced Jose Reyes as the team’s starting shortstop in 2011. I am not sure why Tejada has not gotten the respect that he deserves from Mets executives since he has always fielded his position quite well and has respectable offensive skills. He became a folk hero for Mets fans during the playoffs last fall when the Dodgers’ Chase Utley broke his leg with a controversial slide trying to break up a double play.

The word coming out of the Mets’ spring training complex in Port St. Lucie, FL is that Mets general manager Sandy Alberton wants Wilmer Flores to substitute for Cabrera and for perennial minor league prospect Matt Reynolds serve as Flores’s understudy while Asdrubal Cabrera recuperates.

The Mets have a catching dilemma in that both Travis d’Arnaud and Kevin Plawecki are both perceived as everyday players. The thinking is that d’Arnaud can play first base to spell the streaky Lucas Duda with Plawecki handling the backstop duties. To keep Plawecki’s bat sharp, Alberton may have him start the season with their Las Vegas AAA minor league team . The Mets would like a decent backup catcher while Plawecki is spending time in Sin City and seem willing to deal Tejada to accomplish that goal. I think that would be needlessly overpaying for a bench player.

Former St. John’s University men’s basketball head coach Steve Lavin was a panelist last Friday afternoon at the Big East Conference’s annual Basketball Roundtable. Lavin talked about how the big three athletic apparel companies: Nike, Under Armour, and Adidas have created traveling amateur basketball leagues for hoops phenomenons as young as 10 years old. “Kids are more likely to listen to their sneaker company team coaches than their high school coaches,” Lavin said disapprovingly.

Steve, who has alternated between coaching and sportscasting over the last decade, said that while he enjoys being a color analyst for Fox Sports 1, he would jump right back into coaching if the right offer were to come along.

Former St. John’s athletic director Chris Monasch was also at the seminar. He is currently serving as the interim AD at East Stroudsburg University in the Poconos.

While the Big East Tournament was going on at Madison Square Garden, where Seton Hall upset Villanova to win the championship, the less heralded Atlantic 10 Conference was having their tournament at Barclays Center. They had an upset result as well as the St. Joseph University Hawks from Philadelphia defeated Virginia Commonwealth University.

Avis, which has always been behind Hertz in the rental car business, for years used the slogan, “We try harder,” as a way of attracting customers. The same can be said for the Atlantic 10. For the first two days they gave away tickets to schools and youth groups so that kids who could not ordinarily see a college basketball playoff game could now do so. The A10, as they’ve done in the past, used a terrific caterer to feed the media which was vastly superior to the cuisine being served by the Big East at Madison Square Garden.

The strangest moment in the A10 Tournament occurred last Thursday when St. Louis University head coach Jim Crews began his press conference announcing that he had been fired following his team’s 73-65 loss to George Washington University minutes earlier. I have never seen a coach reveal that he had just been fired, whether it be at the college or pro level, at a press conference immediately following a game. The St. Louis University administration could have had the decency to wait until Crews returned to the Gateway City.

CBS Sports did a great job with their documentary about the 50th anniversary of when the University of Texas at El Paso (then called Texas Western) Miners became the first team to win an NCAA basketball title with a starting five that consisted of solely African-American players. To make things even more dramatic, Texas Western defeated a segregated University of Kentucky Wildcats team in the championship game. Just about every college had integrated basketball teams shortly after that.

At the annual Digital Hollywood confab held in Manhattan two weeks ago panelist, actor, and diehard Knicks fan Michael Rapaport, who directed an ESPN “30 for 30″ documentary on his beloved NBA team a few years ago, told me that he is hopeful that younger millennials will live long enough to see the Knicks won another title.

While Jets fans are understandably preoccupied as to whether their team will be able to re-sign 2015 starting QB Ryan Fitzpatrick who became a free agent at the end of the season, they have to be concerned about the team’s running game now that All-Pro rusher Chris Ivory has left Gang Green to join the Jacksonville Jaguars.

You can be sure that the United States Tennis Association, the governing body of the US Open, was not happy to learn that Maria Sharapova tested positive for a banned substance and will probably not be allowed to take part in the action at the Billie Jean King Tennis Center at Flushing Meadows Park this summer. Sharapova has never had trouble filling up Arthur Ashe Stadium as well as attracting the entertainment and celebrity media to the world of tennis.

It didn’t seem that it was that long ago when the annual South by Southwest Festival held each March in Austin, Texas, was a music extravaganza where up and coming bands could get some exposure similar to the CMJ Music Festival that is held every October here in New York.

Things must have changed rather quickly as it has now become a gargantuan marketing experience for all aspects of corporate America. President Obama generated a lot of attention for SXSW when he decided to forego Nancy Reagan’s funeral to make a speech there last Friday. NBC Sports created its own sports fan fest in downtown Austin last weekend by inviting attendees to meet their air personalities and executives. It also served as a kickoff to bring awareness to their coverage of the upcoming summer Olympic Games to be held in Rio de Janeiro.

The annual International Restaurant & Foodservice Show held at the Javits Center last week had a strong New York component.

Red Jacket Orchards from upstate Geneva, best known for their fresh-pressed apple juices which are sold at a lot of local farmers markets including the one in Forest Hills every Sunday, introduced its new black currant juice that will be available to the public in April.

The lack of manufacturing, particularly in Manhattan’s world famous Garment Center, has been a hot debate topic for the Republican presidential candidates. A fairly new company in the restaurant apparel industry, Tilit Chef Goods, founded by Tulane University alum Jenny Goodman is headquartered in NYC and its clothing is made here.

The Westchester Knicks cheerleaders of the NBA Development League also made an appearance at the show.

Men’s products have become a bigger part of the annual International Beauty Show that was held at the Javits Center the same time that the International Restaurant & Foodservice Show was taking place. A Long Island company, the Men’s Room Collection, was displaying a wide array of shaving and hair products while Grande Naturals was doing the same with its line of men’s shampoo and hair thickening sprays.

Two weeks earlier at the quarterly Beauty Press media trade show, Cotz was touting its newest mineral-based sunscreens while LVX Nail Lacquer executives were boasting about how their toxin-free clear nail polish is very popular with guys who get manicures.

In the youth-obsessed world that we are living in I can understand why both men and women want to want to fight aging and look their best by using a wide array of goods. What I don’t get is why the antiquated industry term, “beauty,” hasn’t been replaced by the more inclusive phrase, “personal care.”

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