The Week That Was: Steven Matz’s Mets Days Come To An End

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There was so much promise when Steven Matz was called up by the Mets from the minors in 2015. He grew up in Suffolk County and quickly became a hero with both his superb pitching and his ability to hit which made it seem as if he was a position player.

Unfortunately Matz’s early success proved to be fleeting and by 2020 all the fan goodwill seemed like a painful distant memory as he was usually heading to the showers by the third inning of any game he started.

There was some talk at the end of the 2020 season the Mets wouldn’t offer a contract to Matz and thus grant him free agency. Figuring left-handed pitchers always command some kind of value, the Mets offered him a $5.3 million contact which Matz accepted. That was no guarantee however Matz would be part of the Mets’ future and last Thursday he was traded by new acting Mets general manager Zack Scott.

Scott received three minor league pitchers from the Toronto Blue Jays in the trade but none appear to be blue chip prospects. It would have been nice had Scott been able to reclaim one of the two pitching prospects, Simeon Woods Richardson or Anthony Kay, who former Mets general manager Brodie Van Wagenen sent to Toronto in exchange for pitcher Marcus Stroman. That deal has yet to pay dividends for the Mets.

Former Mets second baseman Daniel Murphy announced his retirement last week. Mets fans will fondly recall his hitting heroics during the 2015 postseason. However it was Murphy’s shoddy defense which infuriated both fans and Mets executives. Mets general manager Sandy Alderson allowed Murphy to leave the organization as a free agent following the 2015 World Series and he signed a deal with the Washington Nationals. Mets pitchers could never get him out after he no longer called Flushing home. Alderson has acknowledged letting Murphy go was a blunder..

The Mets announced Sandy Alderson’s predecessor, Omar Minaya, will be returning as a goodwill ambassador for the club. My guess is Minaya, who grew up in Corona and attended PS 19, IS 61, and Newtown High School, will do more than make appearances to community groups at the behest of the Mets. Expect him to do scouting and to be an advisor to Zack Scott who became acting GM after the Jared Porter debacle.

Former Mets general manager Brodie Van Wagenen, has dusted himself off after being dismissed by Mets owner Steve Cohen, tow hours after buying the team from the Wilpons. Van Wagenen, a former sports agent at CAA, is the new chief operating officer of Roc Nation Sports, where he will represent athletes in all sports and not just baseball.

The mercurial Yoenis Cespedes is a Roc Nation client. I wish Brodie the best of luck. He’ll need it.

The honeymoon between many Mets fans and owner Steve Cohen appeared to come to an unexpected end when it was learned Cohen had lent financial assistance to the Melvin Capital hedge fund which had its clock cleaned by an army of small investors when it tried to short GameStop common stock. Cohen said his family had received threats and he would be temporarily suspending his Twitter account in a press release issued by the Mets. Clearly, there is no place for threatening anyone’s family on social media or anywhere else.

I observed a lot of folks on social media platforms were angry about the Mets’ failure to land free agent centerfielder George Springer who opted instead to go with the Toronto Blue Jays. I have a feeling had the Mets signed Springer a lot of the vitriol directed at Cohen on Twitter  wouldn’t have happened.  Steve Cohen has quickly discovered the down side of owning a professional sports franchise.

One staple of American culture which should fall victim to the COVID-19 pandemic is the Super Bowl party unless you are in a warm weather clime and can hold it outdoors. That is a key reason why you won’t see any Budweiser commercials during Super Bowl LV nor will you in all likelihood to the runup of the game.

CBS Sports will be carrying Super Bowl LV, and although Anheuser-Busch will be foregoing the “big game” for the first time in 37 years, CBS Sports CEO Sean McManus told the media via Zoom last week his network has had no trouble selling out its inventory of ad spots. CBS is lucky to have one of the most intriguing Super Bowl storylines in quite awhile with the NFL’s most exciting young quarterback, Kansas City Chiefs star Patrick Mahomes, facing off with Mr. Super Bowl himself, Tom Brady, who is finishing off his first year with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers (who will be hosting the game at at their home field, Raymond James Stadium) after a lengthy tenure with the New England Patriots.

The bi-monthly Viacom glossy magazine, “Watch,” is marking its 15th anniversary with its current issue which includes a profile of “NFL Today” anchor James “JB” Brown.

While I knew Brown was a star basketball player at Harvard University I was unaware he was drafted by the Atlanta Hawks but he never made the team. He was also an executive with Eastman Kodak and Xerox before embarking on a sports media career.

The pandemic won’t stop another Super Bowl Sunday TV tradition, the Puppy Bowl, which airs 2PM on both Animal Planet and the new Discovery Plus streaming service. ESPN is lending two of its air personalities, Sage Steele and former Rego Park resident Steve Levy, to call the canine action.

The time slot following the Super Bowl has traditionally been a coveted launching spot for new broadcast network primetime series. This year CBS is giving the honor to a reboot of “The Equalizer” starring Dana “Queens Latifah” Owens as vigilante Robyn McCall.

In a teleconference with media to promote the show, Owens said the hardest aspect of playing McCall is mastering the requisite fight choreography.

Incidentally the interior scenes of “The Equalizer” are being filmed in the Izod Center located adjacent to MetLife Stadium. Many sports fans will recall the Izod Center was home to both the New Jersey Nets of the NBA and the New Jersey Devils back in the day.

It would be smart if “The Equalizer” followed in the footsteps of another terrific CBS crime procedural, “Parson of Interest,” and shot exterior scenes in Queens.

Legalweek, the annual technology show for lawyers and researchers, has long been one of the largest trade shows in our area as it generally takes place for a week at the New York Hilton. COVID-19 forced the show to go virtual this year but the show’s organizers were still able to land big name keynote speakers as both Chris Christie and Stacey Abrams addressed attendees via Zoom.

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