The Week That Was: Noah Barks But Doesn’t Bite

    New York Mets starting pitcher Noah Syndergaard has had a mediocre season and he is understandably frustrated.  According to NY Post Mets beat writer Mike Puma, Syndergaard  last week went to Mets manager Mickey Callaway and general manager Brodie Van Wagenen to request that catcher Wilson Ramos not be his battery mate for the rest of the season.

     With the Mets having their first meaningful September in three years Syndergaard’s timing couldn’t be worse as the last thing that the Mets need is this kind of conflict. The fact that Wilson Ramos’s bat, as evidenced by a recent 26-game hit streak, is a key reason why the Mets are in a legitimate position to make it into the postseason also indicates that Syndergaard is somewhat tone-deaf.

     Syndergaard is upset that his earned run average is a lot higher when Wilson Ramos catches him than when backup backstop Tomas Nido calls his pitches. His complaint is that the stocky Ramos has trouble catching pitches that break low.

     To their credit, Callaway and Van Wagenen denied his request. Callaway told me back in June that he has seen where this kind of situation can destroy a team. If a pitcher can start making demands about catching preferences, what’s to stop them for demanding other inputs into the lineup? 

    Speaking to the media before Friday’s Dodgers-Mets game which Syndergaard started and Ramos did indeed serve as his catcher, Mickey Callaway praised the pitcher for being a determined competitor who is a perfectionist but who had the ability to work with any catcher. He later told me that the Syndergaard-Ramos story got blown out of proportion and that his pitcher never issued an edict.

     The Mets lost 9-2 to the Dodgers as Syndergaard surrendered four runs in five innings. The big blow was a three-run homer by LA rookie Gavin Lux. After the game, SNY reporter Andy Martino said that Syndergaard wanted to throw a slider to Lux but that he was concerned that Ramos would have trouble catching it and didn’t want to risk a wild pitch with men on base. He threw a curveball instead which didn’t break and was whacked by Lux. Syndergaard would have been better off keeping that to himself.

     Mets rookie first baseman Pete Alonso made sure that Mets players properly marked the gravity of the 18th anniversary of 9/11 by purchasing special cleats which honored first responders as well as the memory of those who perished on that fateful day. Alonso not only had to get each teammate’s shoe size but he also had to contact a number of shoe companies since ballplayers have different endorsement deals. 

     Alonso deserves high praise but it’s high time that Major League Baseball allow the Mets and Yankees to wear special caps on 9/11.

      Never forget indeed.

      This past Friday Pete Alonso got a kick out of meeting former Mets catcher Todd Hundley whose 41 homers in 1996 set the mark for most ever hit by a Mets player in one season until a certain first-year first baseman broke that record. Hundley took it all in good stride and told me that he is a big Alonso fan. Hundley was the most recent Mets alum to return to Queens as part of a program started by former team VP of media relations, Jay Horwitz.

    WWE stars Kofi Kingston, Big E, and Mandy Rose were at Citi Field last Friday night to promote Connor’s Cure, the WWE-founded nonprofit whose mission is to provide research funding to find a cure for pediatric cancer.

     Longtime WFAN overnight host Tony Paige retired last weekend. Paige’s relaxed style and his willingness to let listeners have their say was a welcomed change of pace from the prototypical sports talk show where confrontation is the name of the game.

    You have to feel for Chris Carlin who unexpectedly got the boot from WFAN management last Wednesday.

    After starting out at the FAN and then joining the Mets cable home, SNY, Carlin went down the New Jersey Turnpike to Philadelphia where he was hosting an afternoon drivetime sports talk show on WIP, which like WFAN, is owned by Entercom. Shortly after Mike Francesa announced his retirement, Entercom executives summoned Carlin to return to their New York flagship station and anchor an afternoon drivetime sports show with co-hosts Maggie Gray, who had been a scribe with Sports Illustrated and former NFL linebacker Bart Scott.

    While many thought that three people sharing a microphone would be unwieldy, Carlin, Gray, and Scott proved the naysayers wrong and generated both positive reviews in the press and very respectable ratings.

    When Francesa decided that retirement didn’t suit him Entercom immediately brought back “Mike’s On” where it airs from 3 to 6:30. “CMB,” the show that was started by his successors, was bumped to the less listened to 1-3 time slot. It was clear that the handwriting was on the wall for Carlin. As of now, Gray and Scott are still at the FAN.

    Chris Carlin is both knowledgeable and entertaining. I expect him to be back on the airwaves in early 2020. WFAN will pay him until the end of his contact which expires at the year’s end.

    ESPN held a celebration for its last-ever print issue of ESPN the Magazine in Manhattan last Thursday night which was also its 11th annual Body Issue in which a number of athletes tastefully pose in the buff.

    NBA star Karl-Anthony Towns is certainly not shy. While many athletes might have reservations about being part of the Body Issue, Towns admitted that he called his agent demanding that he be part of it.

     Former Texas Rangers first baseman Prince Fielder always had a physique that would best be described as corpulent. Nonetheless he agreed to pose for the Body Issue cover in 2014. “My teammates got a good chuckle out of it. They plastered the walls of our clubhouse with the cover when it came out,” Fielder said with a chuckle.

    The semi-annual TTPM (Toys, Tots, Pets & More) held its annual semi-annual press event last week. Some exhibitors were just as interested in baby boomers as they were in tykes. Warner Brothers Consumer Products is playing up the 50th anniversary of the cartoon series “Scooby Doo, Where Are You?” with a slew of items. As Shaggy, the character voiced by the late radio DJ legend Casey Kasem was fond of saying, “Zoinks!”

    Politics devotees will be happy to know that “The Circus,” which gives viewers a candid insider’s look at what goes on behind the scenes in Washington, returns to Showtime this Sunday. 

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