The Week That Was: The Mets Asdrubal Cabrera Wants Out

It was inevitable that the Mets’ disappointing season would lead to players publicly expressing their unhappiness. On Friday night Mets shortstop Asdrubal Cabrera met with both team general manager Sandy Alderson and field manager Terry Collins to request a trade.

     While it’s easy to bash Asdrubal Cabrera as yet another ungrateful high-earning professional athlete, I am somewhat sympathetic.

      In spite of having a fine 2016 season in which he swatted 23 homers and batted a very respectable .280 while collecting many clutch hits, he has always been looked at as a stop-gap until minor league phenomenon Amed Rosario was ready. Cabrera’s contract expires at the end of this season and he has been unmercifully pestered with questions from the media about his status. 

     Asdrubal was a good sport about the Rosario questions earlier in the season but his mood turned sour as he heard criticism from fans and the media about his frequent errors and diminished range.

     The final straw may have occurred when second baseman Neil Walker suffered a hamstring injury and went on the disabled list. Terry Collins asked Cabrera to play second base while having Jose Reyes play shortstop. Reyes has had a forgettable first half as he has battled to hit .200 and last year. Cabrera probably thought that  Jose should be the one shifting positions.

     The Brooklyn Nets finally traded center Brook Lopez after nine years with the team as he was dispatched to the Lakers along with a late first-round draft choice in exchange for guard D’Angelo Russell and center Timofey Mozgov who once played for the Knicks.

      Brook Lopez could very well be the most underappreciated professional athlete in New York history. He played like an All-Star every year but got little recognition because the Nets were not a very good team for most of his tenure. Even if the Nets had been better, the Knicks, for all of their problems, are light years ahead of them in terms of fans and media coverage.

    The Nets thanked Brook on their website for his years of service and rightfully so. He never complained about the lack of talent around him or the carousel of head coaches and general managers that he deal with in his nine years. He was always accessible to the media and would be more than willing to talk about subjects other than basketball.

    At Thursday’s NBA Draft, the Nets selected University of Texas center Jarrett Allen to replace Lopez. Allen had a terrific freshman season even though his Longhorns team wasn’t very good which means that he should seamlessly fit in with the Nets.

     Knicks fans are certainly hoping that their team’s first-round selection, point guard Frank Ntilikina will be better than their last first-round pick from France, center Frederic Weis who was chosen in 1999 but never played for them.

     The first pick of the 2017 NBA Draft was guard Markelle Fultz who was chosen by the Philadelphia 76ers. What isn’t well-known about him is that he wants to be a CPA after his basketball career. “I have always had an interest in personal finance,” he told me. He said that he would talk to team owner Jeff Harris, who is a University of Pennsylvania alum about getting him into the Wharton School of Business so that he can take courses during the off-season.

     The player who drew the most media attention was not surprisingly Lonzo Ball who was chosen second by the Lakers. Lonzo and his dad, the loud and boastful LaVar Ball, have started an apparel company, Big Baller Brand which is a name that works on many levels. “Being a big baller” is a mindset,” he said with a smile.

     His smile disappeared when I asked him if his dad loved watching pro wrestling. “I never watched it. You’ll have to ask him if watched it,” he coolly replied. Clearly, LaVar’s shtick is right out of the WWE playbook.

    Lonzo wasn’t happy either when I asked him if his Big Baller Brand whose sneakers begin at $495 and t-shirts at $50 would try to create merchandise with more reasonable price points. “We’re a premium product!” he replied without elaborating on what made it such a luxury good.

     The annual New York summer convention of the Fantasy Sports Trade Association made it clear that this is not a cottage industry. Researcher Jason Allsopp told the audience that fantasy sports is a $ 7.2 billion industry and that there are over 60 million participants in the US and Canada. Women comprise 29% of fantasy players.

    WFAN commemorated their 30th anniversary with an all-day broadcast last Thursday from Grand Central Station. Among the FAN alums who called into afternoon drive time air personality Mike Francesa were Chris “Mad Dog” Russo, and curmudgeonly Don Imus.

     FAN morning co-host Craig Carton generated a bit of controversy when he told Newsday’s Neil Best that Mike Francesa has been mailing it in his final year at WFAN. (Francesa has said that his final FAN broadcast will take place this coming December 15)  Carton has always resented that Francesa has never treated him or his partner, Boomer Esiason, with the respect that he showed to Imus when he was hosting the morning drive show on the FAN.

     Given the sub par performance of both teams in 2017, it’s hard to believe that nine months ago the San Francisco Giants and New York Mets were the participants in the one-game wildcard playoff at Citi Field. The Giants were victorious that night which ended the Mets’ 2016 season but if it’s any consolation it appears that the Giants have put up the white flag for this season faster than our Flushing heroes have.

     The Mets swept a three-game weekend series from the Giants in San Francisco after they were humiliated by the Dodgers who swept a four-game series in LA in which the 2017 Mets greatly resembled their 1962 forebears.

     Longtime Mets fans were saddened to learn of the passing of longtime Mets groundskeeper Pete Flynn who helped keep the grass at Shea Stadium greener and well-manicured. Flynn was an amiable man who was very recognizable to all thanks to his red beard and Irish brogue.

     The Yankees did a very classy thing on Old-Timers Day this past Sunday when they saluted my late colleague and good friend, as well as longtime Rego Park resident, Howard Goldin, who covered the Bronx Bombers for the Bronx News for countless seasons. Howard died suddenly last July and the Yankees posted his photo and contributions on their scoreboard during the in memorial part of this year’s ceremony.

      Netflix has just debuted “GLOW,” a dramatization of the cheesy but popular 1980s syndicated weekend television show, “Gorgeous Ladies of Wrestling.” It stars Alison Brie as a failed actress who in desperation auditions for the show and winds up playing its chief heel which is wrestling parlance for villain.

     The real scene stealer in the show however is acerbic comic actor and writer Marc Maron who plays the impresario behind GLOW. Although he’s not named here the brainchild behind it was David McLane who thought that he could be the next Vince McMahon. Unfortunately for him, GLOW did not have the staying power of the WWE.

    ABC has done a nice job reviving beloved game shows during the slower summer TV season. Last year it brought back “Match Game” with Alec Baldwin in the Gene Rayburn role and last Thursday night the alphabet network, to use Variety Magazine lingo, debuted “The Gong Show.”

     The late Chuck Barris and Chris Bearde, who developed the original “Gong Show” in the mid 1970s would have been proud of this revival. Ironically both of these comic geniuses died within two weeks of each other this past spring.

     There are the requisite oddball amateur acts in this strange talent show where the grand prize is $2,000.17. In keeping with the show’s offbeat image, the host is an uncredited Mike Myers who dons prosthetics to create a Benny Hill-type British host named Tommy Maitland.

    If you are old enough to remember laughing hard at the original NBC daytime “Gong Show,” then you won’t be disappointed with this primetime update.

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