Things went so well for the Mets in April that it was easy to forget that their starting catcher, Travis d’Arnaud, is back on the disabled list yet again. While many have labeled d’Arnaud as injury-prone it has be noted that catchers endure more wear and tear on a daily basis than any other type of baseball player.
What is troubling this time is that he has a strained right shoulder rotator cuff that probably came about from rushing throws trying to nail opposing baserunners. A week ago Monday the Cincinnati Reds stole five bases against Travis and none of the plays were even close. Granted, Mets starting pitcher Noah Syndergaard didn’t help matters due to his inability to hold the speedy Billy Hamilton or Brandon Phillips close to the bag by his refusal to make a few token tosses over to first baseman Lucas Duda.
Mets management is going to have to accept the fact that defensively Travis d’Arnaud is not going to rival Johnny Bench or Yadier Molina. They seem willing to accept that tradeoff as long as d’Arnaud, who has proven to be pretty adept with the bat in the past, continues to hit. The problem has been that d’Arnaud was one of the few Mets who did not enjoy a good offensive April. Mets manager Terry Collins has to be concerned about the possibility that opponents running around the bases on Travis, as if they are greyhounds at a Florida track, are affecting his hitting.
Longtime Mets TV play-by-play voice and Flushing native Gary Cohen asked me to clarify a remark that he made during the Phillies-Mets series last month when he claimed that the Phillies were tanking. “It’s not the Phillies players. They want to do their best. It’s the organization.”
Tanking occurs when a sports franchise feels that it can benefit more by currently losing, such as getting better draft choices, than they can by winning enough games to be mediocre. Traditionally teams in these situations try to shed salary as the losses mount.
Apparently the Phillies management and players have not gotten the memo about tanking because they’ve played great the first month of the season as they were pretty much even in the standings with the Mets. If the Phillies can stay in the playoff hunt then you can expect them to be serious buyers for talent at the summer trade deadline as historically they’ve never been afraid to splurge on talent.
Gary Cohen, and his radio counterpart, Cardozo HS alum Howie Rose, will be teaming up this summer for an SNY special called “Beat The Booth” where fans compete against the Mets broadcasters in a Mets trivia contest. Mets savants who want to be part of “Beat The Booth” should log onto the sny.tv website for details.
At the start of the last homestand I asked Mets general manger Sandy Alderson if he was following the team that most folks will be their chief National League East competition, the Washington Nationals, or was it too early in the season for that. He proceeded to cite chapter and verse about the Nats’ 16-inning win over the Minnesota Twins the day before. “I admit that I am mild interested,” Alderson deadpanned.
San Francisco Giants second baseman and St. John’s University alum Joe Panik was back in Queens this past weekend as his team faced the Mets. In spite of working nearly 3,000 miles away from New York, he continues to make his off-season home where he grew up–Hopewell Junction in Duchess County. “It’s great to see friends and family. I also love going to Rangers games.” He said that he has yet to run across however another famous Rangers fan, Matt Harvey.
I then joked with Joe that his CPA probably wished that he would make Nevada his off-season home since there is no income tax there and it borders California. “Taxes be damned, I’m a New Yorker!” he replied with a smile.
The Sports Business Journal reported last week that ESPN’s longtime NBA and “Monday Night Football” play-by-play broadcaster, Whitestone native, and Bayside High School alum Mike Tirico will be jumping soon to NBC who undoubtedly want to give him a key role in their upcoming coverage of the Summer Olympics that will be taking place in Rio de Janeiro.
Tirico’s fellow Bayside High alum, Sirius XM’s longtime hockey reporter Ashley Scharge, got a lot of face time on television last week when the Rangers’ Dan Boyle started berating New York Post Rangers’ beat writer Larry Brooks at the Rangers’ practice facility in Westchester. Boyle and his teammates were cleaning out their lockers following the Pittsburgh Penguins cleaning their clocks in the NHL playoffs.
Dan Boyle can be an intimidating character and a number of media types stayed away from him when he started his tirade. Ashley held his ground as he did not waver holding his microphone right in front of Boyle.
CBS Sports will be broadcasting its first fight in prime time since they televised Leon Spinks beating an aging Muhammad Ali in 1978 on June 25 as Shawn Porter takes on Keith Thurman at Barclays Center for the world welterweight championship. It will actually be a Showtime production (the premium cable network is a CBS subsidiary.) The corporate hope is that the winner will be the next Floyd Mayweather in terms of future pay-per-view popularity.
Mets outfielder Curtis Granderson had an appreciation of Prince but told me that his sister was really a big fan who saw him in concert a few times. “ ‘When Doves Cry’ is my favorite all-time Prince tune,” he told me last week.
Cincinnati Reds All-Star second baseman Brandon Phillips was a bit more vociferous about being a Prince fan. “I always wanted to see him in concert but I couldn’t afford a ticket when I was growing up. I made sure that our public address announcer played Prince music every time I came to bat over the weekend,” Brandon told me. He added that his top Prince song is “Beautiful Girl.”
The Mets did their part in their first game at Citi Field following Prince’s death by playing his 1986 hit, “Kiss,” during of course their intrusive between inning Kiss Cam segment where couples are prodded by the jumbo scoreboard screen to smooch.
We should soon be able to see some of Prince’s performances as well as many other greats who performed on the iconic weekly music television show, “Soul Train,” that was hosted by the late Don Cornelius. At their presentation to ad buyers and media two weeks ago, Debra Lee, the chief executive officer of cable’s BET Network, announced that her network had acquired the “Soul Train” programming library and will work to reactivate the brand. BET’s president of programming, Stephen Hill, announced that his network will have a three-night miniseries on the popular ‘80s teen harmony group, New Edition, in 2017.