The fact that the Mets earned a berth in the postseason this year was nothing short of miraculous given the incessant injuries to both their starting pitchers as well as to a number of key position players. The Amazin’s had to compete down the September home stretch without three starters who were keys to their 2015 success: Matt Harvey, Jacob deGrom, and Steven Matz. On the offensive side of things, franchise face David Wright was lost for the season in June with herniated discs in his neck; home run-hitting first baseman Lucas Duda missed most of the action from May 23rd to late September recovering from a back stress fracture; making it a trio was slugging second baseman Neil Walker’s back gave out on in him in early September. Clutch hitting infielder Wilmer Flores never recovered from inflammation on his right wrist that he incurred roughly a month ago.
Given all of that lost manpower it’s incredible that the Mets were able to have a winning record let alone be able to host a wildcard playoff game at Citi Field. What many have forgotten is that the Mets were two games below .500 at one point in August.
Through thick and thin, it was Mets manager Terry Collins who remained positive and made sure that both the media and his players understood that there in place for “woe is me” thinking in the big leagues. The only time that I can recall Collins blowing his top was at his postgame press conference on August 11th following a 9-0 drubbing at the hands of the lowly Arizona Diamondbacks who had just completed an improbable three-game sweep of the Mets. If you are looking for a season turning point, that’s a good one.
Yes, a lot of the moves that Terry made in games are open to question but there is no doubt that his players went all out for him and bought into his philosophy that anyone on his roster was a major league player and thus was expected to contribute no matter who he was replacing in the lineup. If you believe that any baseball manager can do that, just think back to Terry’s predecessor, the inept Jerry Manuel who also had to deal with a lot of injuries during his 2 ½ year-tenure (2008-2010) as Mets manager. While it would be unfair to say that Manuel’s players tanked for him, they sure didn’t kill themselves either. He also lacked Collins’ flair for handling the media.
Mets general manager Sandy Alderson deserves a ton of credit for finding replacements on the cheap such as finding veteran first baseman James Loney in the minors and arranging a reunion with Jose Reyes after he became a free agent in late June. Reyes, normally a shortstop, did a remarkable job at third base in David Wright’s stead.
The New York Jets, who were co-tenants with the Mets at Shea Stadium from 1964 through 1983, should be grateful to them for keeping their foibles off of the backpages.
Gang Green finds themselves at 1-3 following a 27-17 loss Sunday to the Seattle Seahawks that was never as close as the respectable final score would indicate.
You have to wonder if Ryan Fitzpatrick’s long holdout until the start of training camp in late July has had a negative effect on his performance this season. While he did not throw six interceptions as he did the preceding week against the Kansas City Chiefs, Fitzpatrick did not lead very many long Jets drives either. In fairness however, he did not have receiver Eric Decker, who missed the contest with a shoulder injury. Fitz’s favorite target, Brandon Marshall, was shut down by one of the NFL’s best cornerbacks, the irrepressible Richard Sherman.
The Jets defense, which was supposed to their strong point, was porous to be kind. Seattle quarterback Russell Wilson had plenty of time to find wide open receivers as the Jets pass rush was nonexistent. Strong safety Calvin Pryor got burned by the Seahawks wideouts all afternoon.
Things won’t get easier for the Jets next Sunday as they travel to Pittsburgh to face the Steelers. The Jets have won one game in Pittsburgh in 46 years. Don’t expect that pattern to change.
I realize that I will be guilty of heresy for writing this but the flowery farewells to retiring Dodgers broadcaster Vin Scully were a bit much. I am not being disrespectful to Mr. Scully. It’s simply that most of us have not had a lot of opportunity to hear a lot of his work. I certainly understand why anyone living in Southern California would be emotional over his farewell, and yes, maybe some here who are old enough to fondly recall his days as a radio voice of the Brooklyn Dodgers, but it has been a long time since he has done national broadcasts. I concur that his work on the memorable 1986 World Series in which the Mets prevailed over the Red Sox was excellent.
Even the NFL Network paid tribute to Vin on Sunday by recalling that he did play-by-play of NFL games, something that a lot of us had forgotten or never knew in the first place.
The thirteenth annual Advertising Week that was held last week in New York. The CEO of Advertising Week Magazine is Bayside native and Cardozo High school alumnus Matthew Scheckner who is by his own admission a huge sports fan and made sure that sports was a key part of the week.
The NFL is the big kahuna of sports properties when it comes to client product placement on the part of ad agencies as was made clear at a Fox NFL panel that was held at Town Hall. It was emceed by sportscaster Joe Buck and featured Fox Sports president Randy Freer and Michael Strahan who admitted that being a member of the New York Giants was the key to the multi-platform success that he is now enjoying. “My life would have been a whole lot different if I had been a Detroit Lion!” Strahan said with a chuckle when Joe Buck asked him if he had ever thought of what could have happened to him if the Giants hadn’t drafted him.
Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban was interviewed by Arianna Huffington right after the Fox NFL panel concluded. Cuban was in the front row for the Donald Trump-Hillary Clinton debate at Hofstra University and he provided a lot of behind-the-scenes fodder. “I don’t want to throw this person under the bus but when things started going south for Donald at the debate, one of his family members started rolling their eyes at what he was saying.” Although he did not mention her by name, it was clear to me that he was talking about Ivanka Trump.
One of the more fun panels at Advertising Week was devoted to sports talk radio. WFAN’s Evan Roberts, who co-hosts WFAN’s popular midday show with Joe Benigno, admitted that his shows are more interesting when passionate fans call after their favorite team loses a game. Roberts disputed my notion that FAN executives try to appeal to a stereotypical blue collar guy sipping a beer at a tavern although he conceded that few of his listeners are likely to be NPR listeners or subscribers to The New Yorker.
Also on the sports talk radio panel was Long Island City native son Len Berman who said that he has been enjoying his 20-month run hosting a general interest morning talk show on WOR with his partner, Todd Schnitt. “Our ratings have tripled since we started and we are now beating Imus!” he said proudly. It’s no secret that Len Berman and Don Imus did not see eye to eye when they were both doing shows on W FAN. Imus can currently be heard mornings on WABC.
Another organization, the Interactive Advertising Bureau, is devoted to newer media and cutting edge technology. One of their Ad Week seminars was on the growing popularity of sports podcasts on the web.
Speaking of new technology, the Las Vegas Convention & Visitors Authority was in town last week promoting its virtual reality apparatus that allows individuals to experience a limo ride down the Strip as well as sample snippets of its famed nightlife. It is also available as an app on smartphones.
We shouldn’t forget old technology however. Next year the Erie Canal will be celebrating its bicentennial and travel representatives from cities along the canal (it stretches from Albany to Buffalo) held a press event in lower Manhattan to bring awareness of this milestone. One of the bigger towns along the Erie Canal is Rochester which is home to numerous museums and countless minor league sports teams. JetBlue has frequent daily service between JFK and Rochester as well as to Buffalo.