The Week That Was: Mets Off-season Awards

     New York Mets fans weren’t happy that their team wasn’t playing in October but they’ve certainly enjoyed November as pitcher Jacob deGrom won the National League Cy Young Award while first baseman Pete Alonso was named National League Rookie of the Year last week.

    Both deGrom and Alonso received 29 out of 30 possible votes. DeGrom was nearly a unanimous winner which was a bit surprising considering how he struggled in the first couple of months of the past season.

     The fact Pete Alonso was not a unanimous winner generated controversy since he established an MLB rookie record by smashing 53 home runs. Andrew Baggarly, who covers the San Francisco Giants for the digital publication, The Athletic, voted for Atlanta Braves pitcher Mike Soroka.

    While Mike Soroka had a fine season it is nearly impossible to make a cogent argument that he was a more worthy recipient than Pete Alonso. Greg Gianotti tore Baggarly apart the following morning on WFAN’s “Boomer & Gio Show” stating that Baggarly was merely trying to manufacture contrived publicity for himself and the Athletic.

    Gianotti was absolutely right. Even before it had a chance to become a controversy Baggarly had a column written asking for forgiveness from Mets fans. The Athletic has broken some major stories such as how the 2017 World Series champion Houston Astros supposedly stole the strategy signs from opposing teams so it shouldn’t need its writers to engage in such obvious and tacky self-promotional stunts.

     The Athletic was launched in January 2016 and its CEO is Canadian tech billionaire Alex Mather. The past August Mather claimed the Athletic has 600,000 subscribers but that figure, to the best of my knowledge, has not been independently verified.

    It’s difficult to see how the Athletic will ever be profitable since their only source of revenue is from subscriptions as it has chosen to eschew advertising. The company claims to have over 100 full-time sportswriters on staff.

    I have no problem with veteran journalists who’ve lost their newspaper jobs accepting employment at the Athletic and are given the access they need from sports team public relations officials. They’ve earned it. My complaint is when some recent college grad working for them is given the keys to the kingdom by sports teams while veteran writers from weekly newspapers, who are both in print and have far more readers, are denied that level of access from these very same sports PR honchos.

    Hall of Fame catcher and Mets legend Mike Piazza will be managing Team Italy in the upcoming World Baseball Classic. We’ll see if this whets his appetite to manager in the majors.

     The Mets will be putting all individual tickets for the 2020 season on sale Friday.        

     CBS will be creating an American version of a popular British show, “Game On!” that combines athletic activity in the vein of “American Gladiators” and comedy. Keegan-Michael Key will serve as the host while tennis great Venus Williams and recently retired New England Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski will serve as team captains. No word yet as to an airdate.

    There is a changing of the guard at CBS Sports when it comes to the Tiffany Network’s golf coverage. Peter Kotsis and the witty Gary McCord are being replaced by former PGA stars Trevor Immelman and David Love III, a guy who was always on the leaderboard but never won a tournament as far as I can recall.

    The onset of the holiday season would seem like a strange time to talk about golfing but there are generally enough temperate days to get out to the golf course or at least the driving range. This is also an ideal time to get great deals on golf clubs.

    Club Champion, which has two centers in Manhattan and another in Syosset, creates custom-fitted clubs for golfers and the company’s philosophy is to have a club fit your swing rather than the other way around. This way you can get optimal distance, loft, and direction. A PGA certified pro analyzes your swing and then helps assemble club heads, shafts, and grips from different manufacturers so that you can mix parts from Titleist, Callaway, and Ping which is something you can’t do at a regular golf equipment retailer.

    Hall of Fame pitcher Nolan Ryan used to soak the blisters on his pitching hand in pickle brine so that they would heal faster. At last week’s Jewish foods industry trade show, Kosherfest, a Long Island-based company, Get Pikl’ed, introduced pickle juice in drinkable pouches as a health drink. American tennis player Francis Tiafoe and New Jersey Devils winger Blake Coleman recently told Sports Illustrated they drink pickle juice to fight cramping and improve circulation and stamina.

    The annual hotel industry trade show, Hotel Experience, took place last week at the Javits Center. Vendors of in-room amenities such as electronics manufacturer iHome, dental products supplier the Humble Company, and stationery and manual razor maker Bic all had booths as did DirecTV which smartly touted its “NFL Sunday Ticket” package that allows viewers to watch any out-of-market pro football game they like. 

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