Carroll: Mets Cornering The Market On Concerns

     Mets management and David Wright understandably put on the best spin that they could regarding the third baseman’s latest physical malady, a right shoulder impingement. Wright had to stop practicing hitting and throwing and concentrate instead on hitting the weight room to build up strength.

     My respect for David Wright as a player, and more importantly as a person, is second to none.  Wright is always accessible for a quote, and is a role model in the clubhouse as he sets an example of how a major leaguer is supposed to act.

    It’s hard to ignore the accounting and health issues however. Wright is owed a guaranteed $67 million from the Mets between now and 2020. No one knows if the Mets have an insurance contract on his long-term contract and if they do how much of the contingent liability it would cover. If it’s none or minimal then you can expect Wright and the Mets to keep saying that he will come back. At age 34, and given how things have gone the last two seasons, it’s only rational to assume that his career is over. I’d like to be wrong.

     The Mets have to also be concerned about the other corner position, first base. Lucas Duda’s balky back issues continued in the early days of spring training as he suffered from spasms. Last year the Mets got lucky when Duda went down because they were able to acquire James Loney from the Padres who performed admirably in both the field and at the plate. They’re now hoping that Jay Bruce will be able to spell Duda at first base this season.

      A lot of the marquee names are gone at the Yankees’ Tampa spring training headquarters as Brian McCann was traded to the Astros last winter while Mark Teixeira and Alex Rodriguez both retired in 2016. Ironically there seems to be more excitement about the upcoming season now that Yankees general manager Brian Cashman has made it his mission to go young with players as Aaron Judge, Greg Bird, Clint Frazier, and Gary Sanchez.

     Just like the Yankees, the Jets rid themselves a lot of their old guard as they spent the first quarter of 2017 cutting ties with QB Ryan Fitzpatrick, center Nick Mangold, wide receiver Brandon Marshall, and cornerback Darrelle Revis.

     Jets general manager Mike Maccagnan and head coach Todd Bowles know that in all likelihood they have to get their team into the playoffs in order to continue being employed by team owner Woody Johnson. It takes some courage to move from the status quo without knowing what  personnel you’ll have while realizing full well that you had better obtain immediate success–or else. It’s not hyperbolic to state this upcoming draft and free agency period will be one of the most important in Jets history.

      Second-year Giants head coach Ben McAdoo surprised many at the NFL Combine in Indianapolis by criticizing  QB Eli Manning for turning the ball over too many times last season. McAdoo hasn’t earned Tom Coughlin status yet so it took some courage to call out the man who has two Super Bowl rings and was named the Walter Payton Man of the Year because of his tireless work regarding children’s cancer.

      In the early days of television during the 1950s boxing was a Saturday night prime time staple on the networks. It’s often said that everything comes full circle. After years of getting short shrift by broadcast networks, boxing appears to be welcomed by them again on Saturday nights. Of course that may have more to do with the fact that the broadcast networks have long left Saturday nights for dead by showing reruns than because of an increase in boxing interest.

      Last week Fox broadcast the  Deontay Wilder-Gerald Washington fight in Birmingham while this past Saturday CBS, with the help of its sister Showtime Network, televised a world welterweight title fight between Keith Thurman and Danny Garcia at Barclays Center. The viewers certainly got their money’s worth as the fight went the full 12 rounds with Thurman winning a split decision over Garcia. Both fighters were undefeated coming into the bout.

      The record for the NBA’s all-time worst record is held by the 1972-73 Philadelphia 76ers who finished with a 9-73 mark. The Brooklyn Nets finished had at 8 wins for the season as 2016 ended. It took them two months to do it but they finally won their 10th game of the season as the calendar turned to March as they beat the Kings, 109-100, in Sacramento . Of course just to make sure that their fans didn’t get spoiled the Nets were beaten soundly in their next game by the Utah Jazz.

     Next to the Super Bowl, nothing gets corporate America more excited about sports than the NCAA men’s basketball tournament better known to all as March Madness.

     Longhorn Steakhouse executives figured that this was a perfect time to introduce their meaty roasted chicken wings since wings long proven to be popular with anyone watching a game on the big screen at a bar. Longhorn is also debuting lamb chops and its strawberries and cream shortcake this month as well.

      Dove Men+Care, which is a line of men’s grooming and hygiene products, is taking an unusual and risky approach to March Madness with the rollout of its “Real Strength Manifesto” campaign. The company is reminding fans to engage in sportsmanship and to not be verbally abusive to opposing players and their fans. It has signed up a number of current and former NCAA and NBA stars as JJ Redick, Alonzo Mourning, and  Ray Allen to serve as spokesmen.  

     The Golf Channel has brought back “Feherty,” the talk show in which the irrepressible raconteur and former PGA star David Feherty interviews golfers and celebrities from all walks of life and no subject is off the table. It airs Mondays at 9 PM.

      The first peak at the  fall television season occurs in the spring when the various broadcast, cable, and even digital streaming networks have their upfront presentations for advertisers and the media.

      As per tradition, Nickelodeon, the top-rated network devoted to kids, held the first upfront. Nickelodeon president Cyma Zarghami emphasized how Nickelodeon has partnered with NSACR and the NFL at various big event fan festivals and that she is looking to do deals with the other professional sports organizations.

       It certainly makes sense for both parties. Nickelodeon gets to have a presence at major events where sponsors and attendees take notice while NASCAR and the NFL get to enjoy valuable brand identification with kids which of course will pay long-term dividends.

     ABC is rumored to be reviving “Battle of the Network Stars” this summer. Baby boomers will remember the show as periodic specials that were hosted by Howard Cosell in the late 1970s in which series stars from ABC, CBS, and NBC competed in various athletic contests with the winning team stars earning $20,000.

     The most famous moment of the show was when a belligerent Robert Conrad challenged Gabe Kaplan to a lap around the track and Kaplan won the race in an upset.

     While I enjoyed “Battle of the Network Stars” the concept seems obsolete. Fox wasn’t around them and cable was in its infancy and no one could even imagine streaming services such as Amazon, Netflix, and the best of them all in my opinion, Hulu. It’s a lot harder for TV viewers today to think of televison networks as distinct brands as opposed to what the industry was 40 years ago. If you create more network teams to conform with today’s reality it would get unwieldy. 

     Congratulations to Philadelphia radio legend Bob Pantano who marked the 40th

 anniversary of his “Saturday Night Dance Party” this past weekend on WOGL-FM. One benefit of the Internet is that you don’t have to be in the Delaware Valley to listen to the show as you can simply log onto every Saturday night at 7 PM.

     Everyone wishes the best for former Mets first basement Ed Kranepool who is in need of a kidney transplant. Ed is a frequent presence at Citi Field and he is always gracious to fans who want to reminisce with him. 

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