The Week That Was: The Mets Welcome Jeurys Back To The Familia

     Last week’s baseball winter meetings in Las Vegas did not generate the excitement that was predicted my many involved with the game.

     The one bit of Vegas news for Mets fans was that their team staged a reunion with their longtime closer, Jeurys Familia, who signed a three-year, $30 million deal.

      The Mets traded Familia to the Oakland Athletics in late July for some prospects with the key player being reliever Bobby Wahl who joined the Mets as a September call-up although he didn’t see much action. With the Mets long out of the playoff hunt, and Familia slated to become a free agent at the end of the 2018 season, team executives were understandably motived to move him even though they held him in high regard.

     Word of the Mets reacquiring Jeurys Familia came as a big surprise because there was no advance buzz about it. After the news broke, a number of Mets fans who voiced their opinions on social media seemed less than sanguine because they remember the times when Familia had trouble throwing the ball over the plate.

     While Familia has provided more than his share of agita to the Flushing faithful over the years, this is a smart move on the Mets’ part. More times than not he came through even if he did make you bite your fingernails. Mets fans can take some comfort knowing that newly acquired Edwin Diaz will be closing games. Familia is being asked to be an eighth inning setup man for him. It’s also safe to assume that Mets management sees Jeurys Familia as a reasonably priced insurance policy in case Diaz is not available for whatever reason.

     I wouldn’t be surprised if Mets general manager Brodie Van Wagenen, and his Yankees counterpart, Brian Cashman, made up that three-way trade rumor in which the Mets would send pitcher Noah Syndergaard to the Yankees with the Yanks sending third baseman Miguel Andujar to the Miami Marlins and the Marlins dealing catcher JT Realmuto to the Mets.

     Everyone knows that the nation’s daily newspapers have been struggling and some like the New York Daily News now rarely send sportswriters on the road. Cashman and Van Wagenen surely realized that floating a rumor like that would be a godsend to the tabloids and help justify their expenses in sending reporters to Las Vegas. Most importantly it was a lot of free publicity for both the Mets and the Yankees during a time when football and basketball rule the sports pages.

     Van Wagenen smartly veered away from giving a lot of assets up to the Marlins for Realmuto as he decided to sign talented free agent catcher Wilson Ramos instead. While he may not be as talented as Realmuto, Ramos can hit and handle a pitching staff just fine.

     It’s hard to believe how many members of the Baseball Writers Association of America were livid over the fact that the Veterans Committee of the National Baseball Hall of Fame voted to elect outfielder Harold Baines to the Cooperstown shrine. While he wasn’t Willie Mays, Baines had a terrific 22-year Major League Baseball career.

    Not surprisingly, BBWAA members were rather mute about the Veterans Committee also electing relief pitcher Lee Smith for induction. Smith was one of the most dominant relievers of the 1980s and he should have been elected by the BBWAA when he was on their ballot.

    Forest Hills High School alum Ian Eagle, who has become one of the nation’s most respected play-by-play voices, has just became a YouTube star by virtue of calling the New England Patriots-Miami Dolphins game two weeks ago on CBS in which the Dolphins won on a last second lateral schoolyard touch football play.  Over 2 million people have watched the replay with Eagle’s call of that miraculous finish.

    Yankees broadcaster John Sterling has been the voice of the New Jersey Nets, Baltimore Bullets (who are now the Washington Wizards), and the Atlanta Hawks during the early years of his long broadcasting career.. This past Sunday afternoon, Sterling returned to his NBA roots as he was the TV play-by-play voice for the Brooklyn Nets on their YES telecast.

     YES Nets TV analyst Sara Kustok did a fine job making sure that Sterling was comfortable with his guest appearance with her banter and he did not make any big gaffes. The Nets prevailed over the Atlanta Hawks 144-127 and Sterling obliged with a “The Nets win! The Nets win!” wrap-up call even if it wasn’t as enthusiastic as what he utters following a Yankees triumph.

     Kudos to the New York Rangers for not ceding this past Sunday afternoon to the New York Giants and the NFL as they hosted a rare early matinee against this past year’s Cinderella sports team, the Vegas Golden Knights. It was nice to see parents bringing their children to a hockey game and that made it a smart promotion on the part of the Rangers.

    The brand choices that kids make frequently stay with them their whole lives. I have never understood why the Mets have been so eager to get rid of Saturday 1 PM games, especially when the weather is chilly early in the season.

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     Television seems to have discovered the nation’s oldest game, lacrosse. At a Manhattan press conference last Tuesday, the National Lacrosse League and Turner Sports announced that Bleacher Report Live would start broadcasting its games as part of its pay streaming service. This summer the NBC Sports Network will televise the games of the outdoor Premiere Lacrosse League.

     Also announced at the NLL press conference was that the Nassau Coliseum will once again be home to an NLL team that will begin operations in time for the 2019-2020 season. Some may remember that there was an NLL team that played there, the Saints, but they were not very good either on the field or in the area of ownership.  

     Tastykake, the famous Philadelphia mass market baker, has released its annual holiday line of confections which include Frosty Kakes, Mint Kandy Kakes, and Santa Snacks. For those who want more “adult” treats, try their red velvet and salted caramel mini donuts as well as their maple sweet rolls.

     The annual New York Produce Show for the trade and press took place last week at the Javits Center.

     Growers assured the media that romaine lettuce is once again safe to eat after yet another round of E coli breakout around the country a few weeks ago.

    Just as there film box office and pop music charts, there are specialty produce charts. According to a spokesperson for Melissa’s Produce, Baby Dutch Yellow Potatoes have overtaken Baby Red Potatoes for the top spot when it comes to sales on the specialty potato charts.

    Mayer Brothers, based in upstate West Seneca, was touting their various flavored apple ciders include caramel and pumpkin spice which can be served chilled or heated for a warm winter beverage treat.

    Speaking of upstate New York, the town of Dannemora, in particular its prison, have gotten a lot of television attention. Three years ago, two convicts, David Sweat and Richard Matt, broke out of Dannemora with the help of a prison employee, Joyce Mitchell. She smuggled saws into their cells so that they could create a hole in a large steam pipe that ran from the prison to outside of its walls.

    Showtime’s “Escape At Dannemora,” which was directed by Ben Stiller and stars Benicio del Toro and Patricia Arquette is a dramatization of what happened in 2015 and has been nominated for several awards. It is in the midst of an eight-week run.

     This past Saturday, cable’s Oxygen Network debuted a two-hour documentary, as opposed to Showtime’s dramatization, titled “Dannemora Prison Break.”

      It’s safe to say that no prison break has captivated the public since Clint Eastwood retold Frank Morris’s story in 1979’s “Escape From Alcatraz.”

     It was very generous of both the New York Pops and UnTUCKit to partner in teaching music and distributing shirts to kids at PS 171 in Long Island City and PS 303 in Forest Hills.

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