“Well, if you are going to lose, you might as well lose fast,” is what I remarked to personable Mets catcher Josh Thole following yet another listless loss last year. Thole, who was traded to the Toronto Blue Jays in the RA Dickey trade over the winter, quickly replied with a smile “You got that right!”
I was thinking of that exchange with Josh after watching the Mets lose 2-1 in 20 innings to the Miami Marlins last Saturday at Citi Field. The extraordinary length of the game was not the main story. The galling headlines were that the Mets went 0 for 19 with runners in scoring position and struck out 19 times against pitchers who were not exactly the second coming of Sandy Koufax, Juan Marichal and Bob Gibson.
The Miami Marlins have the worst record in the majors but now hold an 8-3 mark against the Mets this year. It’s like one of those old Charles Atlas ads except here the Marlins are the baseball bullies kicking sand in the faces of the weakling Mets.
Mets general manager Sandy Alderson sent down struggling first baseman Ike Davis, reliever Robert Carson and backup outfielder Mike Baxter to their Las Vegas farm team following yet another Mets lost weekend.
Baxter, a Whitestone native, has played only sporadically this year for reasons known only to manager Terry Collins since his outfield is a vast wasteland, to borrow the phrase that Federal Communications Commissioner Newton Minow used to describe television in 1961.
Alderson is fond of talking about accountability. Perhaps it’s time to evaluate him. Let’s assume for the time being that Mets CEO Fred Wilpon hired Alderson in 2010 on his own and not because he was forced to by Major League Baseball Commissioner Bud Selig.
The word on Alderson was that he was the perfect guy to run the financially strapped Mets because he knew how to get the Oakland Athletics into the playoffs despite their very limited economic resources.
Billy Beane, not Alderson, was the mastermind behind “Moneyball.” It was Beane who picked out low-salaried players who could perform well. Alderson has only shown that he can put together a team of low-salaried players who are just that for a very good reason. Instead of “Moneyball,” Mets fans have had to endure “Punyball.”
Granted, Alderson has not had the open wallet that his predecessor, Omar Minaya, enjoyed, but when he had a rare opportunity to lavish big dollars on a free agent, it was for the underwhelming and perennially hurt relief pitcher Frank Francisco.
Fred Wilpon should start thinking about a shakeup in the executive ranks.
Up2Us is a relatively new nonprofit whose mission is to fund youth sports programs as well as to lobby for the recovery of the $3.5 billion that has been cut from sports programs in public schools over the last two years.
The organization held a fundraising cocktail party and dinner in Tribeca last week, and a number of sports celebrities appeared to show their support.
Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, arguably the greatest center to ever play in both the NCAA and the NBA, talked about the reasons you don’t see more of the shot that he made famous, the sweeping hook, anymore.
“Even though there is a higher probability of getting two points with a fairly unstoppable shot 8 feet from the basket, there is more emphasis on the outside shot, particularly the three-pointer,” Kareem said. “That is what ESPN wants to show on SportsCenter, and the NBA has followed suit. The other problem is that few coaches know how to teach the post-up game of working the ball inside to big men for easy baskets.”
Abdul-Jabbar admitted that he is still bothered by Columbia University’s decision to spurn his offer to coach the men’s basketball team a decade ago. “I was hoping to be the Wizard of the West Side!” he said with a soft smile — a variation of the “Wizard of Westwood” moniker that was bestowed on his old UCLA coach, John Wooden. He did not argue with my belief that the Columbia Athletics Department does not like receiving media attention, and hiring him would certainly have generated just that.
Former Knicks forward David Lee told me that he still enjoys following his old team even though he is playing for the Golden State Warriors, coached by Mark Jackson, who grew up in Cambria Heights. Carmelo Anthony recently complained that the Knicks desperately need another scorer. Lee broke into a big grin when I said he would fit the bill nicely.
Sean Avery, who called it a career last year, will always be one of the great instigators in National Hockey League history. He is now working for a Manhattan luxury-brands ad agency. “I have easily adapted to the real world,” Sean said. He added that he doesn’t follow hockey closely these days. When I asked him if he was surprised that the Rangers fired his old coach, John Tortorella, who was an instigator himself, Avery cooly replied, “Was anybody really surprised?”
I guess Avery and Tortorella were like similar magnetic poles who repelled each other.