The Week That Was: Tom Terrific

     Anyone who was a Mets fan when Tom Seaver was pitching for the home team at Shea Stadium was devastated to hear the news last Thursday that Seaver will be retiring from public life because of dementia.

     It wasn’t just because the man who was dubbed “The Franchise” and “Tom Terrific” is the only homegrown Mets player to be enshrined in the National Baseball Hall of Fame and was the key reason why the Mets went from being baseball laughingstocks to World Series champs in 1969. Learning that the perennially boyishly handsome and articulate Seaver is battling dementia, is a stark reminder of everyone’s mortality. 

      Apparently a number of Tom Seaver’s teammates from that fabled 1969 team were aware of his cognitive issues in late 2016 and that he had become reluctant to leave his home in Napa Valley. One of those teammates, first baseman-outfielder Art Shamsky, was concerned that Seaver would not be able to enjoy the celebration of the fiftieth anniversary of the ‘69 Mets that will be taking place this summer. Shamsky and fellow former ‘69 teammates Jerry Koosman, Ron Swoboda, and Bud Harrelson (who himself is battling Alzheimer’s Disease) decided to celebrate a couple of years early with Seaver by visiting him at his Northern California home.

     Art Shamsky, assisted by co-author Erik Sherman, has written a  book on that 2017 trip to see Seaver out west titled “After the Miracle” (Simon & Schuster). This is a must-read for Mets fans as Shamsky devotes most of the pages sharing his recollections of that magical baseball season with the final chapters serving as the meet-up with Seaver.

     Shamsky and Sherman smartly allow the reader to be a fly on the wall as the ex-Mets engage in storytelling. There is even some fun political friction as Ron Swoboda, one of the baseball’s few liberals, recalls how ultra conservative pitcher Don Cardwell was upset with his anti-Vietnam War beliefs.

      The authors also point out the pride that Seaver has taken in his Calistoga winery where he produces GTS Cabernet Sauvignon.

     When I met Tom Seaver for the first time at Citi Field a number of years ago I decided that I would eschew discussing baseball and chat about red wine instead. I told him that I wasn’t a big fan of California reds and that I preferred Pinot Noir from Oregon’s Willamette Valley.

     Seaver became animated discussing Pinot Noir. “It’s a finicky grape and it’s hard to replicate taste from one vintage to another because there are so many variables that affect it such as temperature, amount of sun, the slope of the hill, and the quality of the soil.”

    He went on to state that price has nothing to do with wine enjoyment. “It’s an individual thing. You can love a $20 bottle and hate a brand costing $100.”

    He’s right about that.

    Mets general manager Brodie Van Wagenen announced last week that John Franco, Al Leiter, and Jessica Mendoza to become special advisors to him.

     I am gratified for John Franco, a St. John’s alum and one of the best relief pitchers in Mets history, who has told me for years that he has wanted to use his baseball acumen in the talent evaluation area instead of merely being a goodwill ambassador for the Mets.

     Al Leiter and Jessica Mendoza have received permission from their respective cable television networks, MLB and ESPN, to moonlight with the Mets while still continuing their broadcast work. Yes, a good argument can be made that it’s a conflict of interest to work for a baseball team and still call baseball games.

     The Mets released infielder TJ Rivera last Thursday because they have a surplus of infielders (when everyone is theoretically healthy) and that Rivera, who missed the entire 2018 season recovering from shoulder surgery and Van Wagenen determined that his shoulder would prevent him from enjoying a productive baseball career in the foreseeable future. It Rivera could really hit. He’s also a friendly guy who grew up in the Bronx and that has made him popular with fans and media.

      Former New York Yankees great and current Miami Marlins minority owner Derek Jeter was the recipient of some unnecessary criticism last week for conceding that his team probably won’t win that many games and adding that a lot of customers simply want to go to a game to enjoy themselves and forget about the real world for a few hours. He is right on both counts.

     New York Giants general manager is understandably getting heat from fans for letting All-Pro safety Landon Collins leave as a free agent instead of (a) re-signing him or (b) trading him to another team to get a player in return.

     “Daily News Live” which has been a fixture at 5 PM weekdays since the inception of the Mets’ cable home, SNY, in 2006, will be having its final broadcast this Friday. My guess is that the financially beleaguered New York Daily News decided that it wasn’t worth spending the sponsorship money on it. It had become a bit embarrassing over the last year because many of the panelists on the show were sportswriters who had been laid off by the News.

    I have always had a soft spot for TV comedies set in high schools going back to such ‘70s ABC classics as “Welcome Back, Kotter” and “Head of the Class.” NBC’s “AP Bio” which debuted last spring has returned for its second season and airs Thursdays at 8:30. The show stars Glenn Howerton and Patton Oswalt and its executive producer is Seth Meyers so it’s not a surprise that it’s quite witty.                       

    Queens was certainly well represented at last week International Restaurant & Foodservice Show. Galvanina is an Italian sparkling beverage company which makes its headquarters in Maspeth. Also exhibiting was Bimmy based in Long Island City whose Artisan lines of salads and wraps are well-known to those grabbing a bite while waiting for their flights at JFK or LaGuardia.

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