Carroll: April Was The New York Mets Cruelest Month

      The poet T.S. Eliot may have had the Mets in mind when he started off his poem, “The Waste Land,” with the line “April is the cruelest month.”

       After getting off to a good start, which included sweeping a three-game series in Philadelphia, things went south for them in Miami as they lost three out of four games there.

       Life didn’t improve for the Mets when they returned to Citi Field as they went 1-8 on their last homestand. One reason for that dismal record was that their old enemy, the injury bug, returned with a vengeance. Wilmer Flores, Lucas Duda, and Travis d’Arnaud all missed games.

       The team’s big offensive kahuna, Yoenis Cespedes, once again had trouble with his balky hamstring. To paraphrase a politician who has been in the news a lot over the last year ,“Who knew that the cool, damp April NYC weather could aggravate it?” Last week Cespedes was placed yet again on the disabled list.

      The news wasn’t much better on the pitching level as neither Steven Matz nor Seth Lugo was able to throw a single pitch because of a variety of ailments. Robert Gsellman, who was an unexpected pleasant surprise last year, sure looked like a flash in the pan during the first month of this season. Hitters have figured him out so he is going to have to make adjustments if he is going to stay in the big leagues.

     Mets ace Noah Syndergaard had his last pitching start delayed because of alleged arm soreness  but he refused to take an MRI much to the consternation of Mets management. After the Mets were thumped by the awful Atlanta Braves for the second straight game Noah told Mets VP of media relations Jay Horwitz to “take his little minions out of the clubhouse” when the media approached him in the clubhouse.

     Everyone understands that players are human and tempers grow short when losses pile up. Nonetheless Syndergaard realizes that the job of the media is to report accurately. The media helped create his Thor character, from which he has clearly benefitted, free of charge. He should show a little gratitude.

    Noah would also be wise to be less pigheaded when it comes to getting proper medical attention. He knew that he was suffering from shoulder injuries and yet he insisted that he was good to go for this past Sunday. He gave up five runs in the first inning and was forced to leave the game because of shoulder pain. The Mets fittingly finished April getting humiliated by the Nationals 23-5 in that game which Syndergaard started.

     To be fair there was some good news for the Mets over the weekend. They did win two games over  the Nats. Michael Conforto and Jay Bruce continued to hit well. Most importantly, Jose Reyes appeared to finally regain his old hitting form.

       It appears that Miami Marlins owner Jeffrey Loria, who was never loved baseball the way he does art, will be selling the team to syndicate led by former Florida governor Jeb Bush and “The Captain” himself, Derek Jeter. President Trump will probably call the Marlins a low energy team.

      ESPN was inured from economic bad news for most of its 38-year existence. The first rumblings of trouble in paradise came a couple of years ago when stories of millennials dropping cable television started to surface. Last year a further sign of trouble was the company’s decision to force its single biggest star since its inception, Chris Berman, to take an emeritus role and reduce his presence there.

     There is no doubt that the Worldwide Leader in Sports made some bad decisions as it overpaid for broadcast rights to the major sports and its roster of air personalities became bloated. The notion of launching a digital footprint in every major market turned out to be an economic disaster. Ironically the one thing that did not hurt ESPN was cable competition as Fox Sports 1, the CBS Sports Network, and the NBC Sports Network are still light years behind in terms of viewers.

     ESPN laid off around 100 employees a couple of weeks ago and more are expected. What was most surprising to me was that they couldn’t hold off a couple of weeks since both the Sports Emmy Awards and its Upfront are imminent. Upfronts are where the television networks show off their upcoming programming to advertisers. The idea is to project strength and confidence to them. Announcing layoffs does not inspire confidence for investors of any kind.

     Among those who lost their gigs was former Phillies centertfielder and University of Pennsylvania alum Doug Glanville, who did a terrific job as an analyst on baseball broadcasts, and former Knicks and Nets center, as well as Harvard Law School grad,  Len Elmore, who grew up in Woodside. Len is always a great listen on college basketball telecasts.

     TTPM is the semi-annual trade show where the toy industry shows off its latest wares for kids of all ages and it was held last Thursday in Manhattan.

     Tucker Toys added a touch of technology to its flying disc (similar to Wham-O’s industry leader, the Frisbee). Tucker’s cleverly named Disc Jock-e allows players to listen to their favorite music via blue tooth technology while tossing their plastic sphere in the park or at the beach.

    A startup, Creative Brainworks, showcased Bean Bag Bucketz, a delightfully simple yet addictive eye-hand coordination game. Players are given small bean bags and have to try to get them into plastic buckets of various diameters from approximately 20 feet, the same distance that we used to read those eye charts in elementary school.

     Cable television’s BET Network held its annual Upfront presentation to advertisers and the media last Thursday night. The pride of South Jamaica, Curtis “50 Cent” Jackson, announced that he will be hosting a weekly late night sketch comedy and variety show on the network. BET also announced that actress/comedienne/writer Robin Thede will host a weekly talk show. Network executives are hoping that Thede will be their answer to Chelsea Handler and Samantha Bee.

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