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Queens Chronicle

Shutting Santana down

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Posted: Thursday, August 30, 2012 10:30 am

Mets General Manager Sandy Alderson has announced that one-time ace Johan Santana will not pitch for the rest of the seasondue to inflammation on his lower back. Since Johan missed the entire 2011 campaign recovering from shoulder surgery and badly struggled in his last six starts, where he got lit up for six runs each time, Alderson said he felt this was the prudent course of action.

The decision was a no-brainer since the team’s season for all intents and purposes is over, but leave it to the Mets to find a way to embarrass themselves in the process.

Instead of quietly sending him to see a specialist after his sixth consecutive lousy start, the Mets bizarrely had Santana meet with the media last Monday, when he assured everyone he was fine and that he was looking forward to pitching against the Colorado Rockies on Thursday afternoon.

Thus it was a surprise the Mets reversed field two days later. I asked Alderson if Santana had come to management complaining about being hurt or whether the Mets took it upon themselves to demand an MRI. After a slight pause, Sandy stated that it was the former. Clearly someone is not telling the truth.

While I concur with the end result, Alderson was trying to sell both the media and Mets fans on the fantasy that with proper rest Santana will return to his Cy Young form. Johan will be 34 by the time Opening Day rolls around next year, and unless he can do what Ponce de Leon couldn’t by discovering the Fountain of Youth, it would appear that Alderson is playing us all for rubes.

After hearing Alderson prattle on about his high expectations for Johan next year, it’s obvious that Mets management is clearly hoping that the Mets faithful will remember his June 1 no-hitter against the Cardinals while forgetting about his horrible second half performance. From a marketing viewpoint, Santana’s shutdown makes perfect sense.

WFAN’s afternoon drive-time icon, Mike Francesa, had Alderson on as his guest following the Santana announcement. Speaking in his usual calm, lawyerly style, Sandy said the Mets will probably have the same payroll in 2013 as in 2012, though there will be some changes in player personnel.

The next day the Mets were beaten for the fourth straight time by the lowly Rockies. Alderson’s “stay the course” philosophy must have rankled the grumpy Francesa, who proceeded on a rant against the team similar to the kind that his former partner, Chris “Mad Dog” Russo, routinely did. It was great radio and Mike was right on target.

The Mets may perennially disappoint us on the field but their community outreach department never does. Last Tuesday night, the team gave over 100 tickets to AHRC, an organization whose mission is to enrich the lives of the developmentally disabled of all ages. In honor of the AHRC night at Citi Field, the Mets had Adam Levine, a resident at AHRC’s Glen Cove group home, sing our national anthem. He was flawless.

While the Arthur Ashe Day celebrations were going on last Saturday, a number of the top tennis players met with the media to discuss the US Open, which got underway Monday at the Billie Jean King National Tennis Center in Flushing Meadows.

Maria Sharapova discussed her new entrepreneurial venture, a candy company that she named Sugarnova. Her gumballs and other confections are sold at Henri Bendel and at Radio City Music Hall. She admitted that her dentist isn’t happy with her venture.

Victoria Azarenka was thrilled that American Express chose her to be part of its latest US Open campaign and said she got a big kick out of seeing her likeness on the boardwalk connecting Flushing Meadows Park to the Willets Point subway station.

Andy Murray, who has had the burden of having the hopes of his native United Kingdom on his shoulders for years, listened intently when I said that Americans don’t have any male tennis players on whom they can place their hopes. Murray dutifully mentioned his respect for Andy Roddick, John Isner, Mardy Fish, Sam Querrey and Ryan Harrison, but it was more out of diplomacy than a deep-seated belief that any of them actually had a chance of winning the big trophy a week from Sunday.

Roger Federer did not make any friends with the Occupy Wall Street crowd last Saturday. I mentioned to him how the term “one percenters” became part of the lexicon because of the OWS belief that 1 percent of Americans control 99 percent of this country’s wealth. Likewise, in men’s tennis, 1 percent of the players seem to win 99 percent of the Grand Slam tournaments. I asked Federer if this was a good thing for his sport. “I believe that it is. People like to see the same rivals meet at the end,” he said without a trace of appearing self-serving.

I don’t want to appear xenophobic, but there is something disconcerting about the number of foreign-based corporations that sponsor the US Open. Emirates Airlines has replaced United as the Open’s aviation sponsor. Mercedes-Benz remains the official vehicle while Heineken is once again the official beer. Thank goodness for New Hampshire’s Stoneyfield, which returns as the official yogurt of the US Open. Yes, good old American Express is still a big patron as well.

It was very classy of PGA star Nick Watney, who won the Barclays at Bethpage State Park last week, to publicly thank Darrell Kestner, the teaching pro at the Deepdale Country Club, located just across the Queens line in Manhasset, for helping him with his putting.

New York Islanders right winger and golf fanatic Kyle Okposo was at the Barclays on Friday. He agreed with me that the Islanders should have taken a tent on the grounds of Bethpage Black to sell tickets just as the Brooklyn Nets were doing. “They never miss an opportunity to miss an opportunity” is the famous quote from Israeli Foreign Affairs Minister Abba Eban, said out of frustration about trying to negotiate with the Palestinians, and it certainly applies to the Isles as well.

Welcome to the discussion.