The Week That Was: Mets Slipping Away

     When the Mets got swept by Milwaukee Brewers in Milwaukee this past Sunday it dropped their season record to 16-18 which put them below the .500 mark for the first time in 2019.

      You couldn’t blame Mets fans for thinking of a quote that has long been attributed to the late Yogi Berra–“It’s deja vu all over again” after the disastrous series with the Brewers. In the past two years when the Mets fell below .500 they never rose above it again.

      Ironically the Mets’ latest malaise is occurring when the pitching, both starting and relief, which had been atrocious for most of April, was actually performing quite well. The culprits have become poor hitting and shoddy fielding.

      The offense, with the exceptions of Jeff McNeil and Pete Alonso, has resembled the 2015 days when the heart of the Mets lineup consisted of Eric Campbell and John Mayberry, Jr. and both were hitting under .200.

     The defense has been victimized primarily by shortstop Amed Rosario who has become an error machine. On Sunday the normally reliable Keon Broxton misjudged a line drive smacked by Milwaukee’s Orlando Arcia and it proved pivotal in a 3-2 loss.

     Adding to the concerns of the Flushing faithful is that starting pitchers Jason Vargas and Steven Matz are reporting ailments. Vargas had to be pulled after four innings Sunday because of hamstring pain while Matz complained of pain in his forearm.

     We’re going to quickly find out whether the 2019 Mets are a resilient group or whether the theme for this season will be once again the tag line from those cheesy Life Alert TV commercials, “We’ve fallen and we can’t get up!”

      The Mets sent first baseman Dominic Smith down to their Syracuse minor league team. Smith had played well but through no fault of his own was riding the bench because of Pete Alonso’s fine play which netted him the National League Rookie of the Month for April.

     The conventional wisdom is that Mets general manager Brodie Van Wagenen parked Smith there until he can work on a trade. That could be a big mistake. Given that Brandon Nimmo has struggled to hit .200 this season it would behoove Van Wagenen to tell Syracuse manager Tony DeFrancesco to play him in left field as well as at first base.

     Smith told me last week that he quit his Dominican Republic winter league team because his manager wouldn’t let him play in the outfield which would have increased his versatility.

     One bright spot for the Mets was Noah Syndergaard’s 1-0 complete game victory against the Cincinnati Reds last Thursday in which Syndergaard also provided the offense by smacking a home run. It was arguably the most memorable day for a Mets pitcher at Citi Field since Johan Santana tossed a no-hitter on June 1, 2012.

    Travis d’Arnaud who was released by the Mets last week, has been signed as a free agent by his hometown team, the Los Angeles Dodgers. The Mets will be on the hook for the majority of his $3 million salary.

     Former NYC high school basketball and St. John’s University Red Storm hoops star Felipe Lopez was the subject of an ESPN “30 for 30″ documentary that was broadcast last Tuesday titled “Dominican Dream” which was also shown at the recently concluded Tribeca Film Festival.

     Lopez told me in a phone interview that he is grateful that social media was not in existence when he was growing up because he would not have been able to handle it. “The attention from the traditional media was overwhelming enough!” he said with a laugh.

     Nathan’s Fourth of July Hot Dog Eating Contest champion Joey Chestnut also was the subject of a Tribeca Film Festival documentary titled “The Good, The Bad, The Hungry.” Chestnut told me that he and Yankees pitcher CC Sabathia both attended Vallejo Senior High School in the Bay Area although Sabathia graduated three years before him. The two have never met although Chestnut is hoping to meet him when he is back here for Independence Day.

     New England Patriots safety Devin McCourty hosted a forum on criminal justice reform as part of the Queens District Attorney candidates forum that was held at American Museum of the Moving Image in Astoria last Thursday night.

     McCourty is a board member of the Players Coalition which is comprised of NFL players who get involved with any issue that involves racial inequality. He made it clear that the Players Coalition doesn’t condone crime but rather that distinctions should be made between violent crime and lesser ones when it comes to locking people up for any stretch of time.

     McCourty conceded that Donald Trump took full advantage of Colin Kaepernick’s kneeling actions during the playing of the national anthem at NFL games to help galvanize his base when he was running for president in the fall of 2016.

     The disqualification of apparent Kentucky Derby winner Maximum Security will be debated for years. As President Trump tweeted out that Churchill Downs was a muddy mess and with so many horses competing for the same real estate at blazing speeds it was inevitable that there would be some inadvertent contact. I may not agree with on a lot of things but he did raise fair points here.

     The biggest winner of the controversy wasn’t Country House, the longshot runner-up who was subsequently declared the Derby winner, but rather NBC Sports whose coverage was anchored by Whitestone native and Bayside High School alum Mike Tirico.

    NBC reported that the ratings for the 2019 Kentucky Derby were the highest in 30 years. The controversy will certainly help the ratings for next week’s Preakness.

    Another proud son of Queens, former advertising executive and Hollis native Donny Deutsch, is hosting a new MSNBC series, “Saturday Night Politics” which airs at 8 PM. It’s great when any network presents original programming on Saturday evenings which for reasons that I have never understood is now viewed as a vast wasteland by television executives who use that time to rerun shows.

    Queens was represented at the quarterly Wedding Salon showcase for all things nuptial that was held in Manhattan last week by Howard Beach’s iconic catering hall, Russo’s On The Bay, and by Botanique, a Long Island City florist that specializes in floral arrangements for special occasions .Botanique CEO Ashley Santora told me that she is hoping to emulate Woodside native and 1800Flowers founder Jim McCann by eventually becoming a florist for all consumers.

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