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Queens Chronicle

Sore Sandy and sore Santana

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Posted: Thursday, April 4, 2013 10:30 am

Granted, no one should have expected onetime Mets ace Johan Santana to be a difference-maker in 2013. The general consensus from baseball prognosticators is that the Mets would finish in fourth place in the National League East with or without him.

In most years, the Mets would be picked to finish in the cellar with the kind of team they have, but the Miami Marlins have earned that dubious distinction from most of the baseball media because their owner, Jeff Loria, decided to gut their roster in order to save a ton of payroll. It should be pointed out that Loria has done this kind of thing before and the Marlins always seem to surprise when they put on the field a lineup of unknowns, so Mets fans can’t rest that easy.

Now we’ll never know what caused Johan Santana’s left shoulder to tear again, requiring surgery, as it did in 2011. It is obvious, however, that the 135 pitches that he threw against the St. Louis Cardinals on June 1 in the first-ever Mets’ no-hitter greatly accelerated the depreciation, to use an accounting term, on it since Johan was hit hard by opposing teams from that point on last year, before being put on the disabled list in August.

Mets general manager Sandy Alderson told the press then that he expected Johan to be the team’s 2013 Opening Day starter. I thought he was being unrealistic at the time. And in the end Jon Niese got the ball.

Early in spring training Alderson went public with his frustration about Johan arriving at the Mets base at Port St. Lucie, Florida in far less than game-ready shape. Three weeks ago I wrote a column about how Mets executives were being delusional if they were counting on Santana, and that they should trust him to work out at his own pace. To his immense credit, Mets manager Terry Collins stood up for Johan as soon as Alderson made his statement.

Anyone who has ever met Johan Santana knows that he is a hard worker and a man of immense pride. Even with his Powerball-like contract, he never just goes through the motions. It wouldn’t surprise me if Johan may have done too much throwing too soon just to prove Alderson wrong.

Santana’s absence from the Mets goes beyond mere wins and losses. He is a proven leader in the clubhouse, on a team where that is a rare commodity. I have always been impressed by how he makes himself available for interviews for not just the big fish in the sports media pond but those from smaller outlets as well. He will be missed.

Charlotte Bobcats head coach Mike Dunlap was the St. John’s Red Storm interim head coach last year when Steve Lavin was recuperating from prostate cancer. Last Friday night I had a chance to chat with him before the Bobcats game with the Knicks at Madison Square Garden.

He was well aware of how the Red Storm season fell apart when the team suspended their star point guard, D’Angelo Harrison, in early March. “It shows that they have a system of discipline in place that doesn’t favor good players nor does it concern itself with the calendar. I know that D’Angelo will learn from this experience,” Dunlap said. He added that he expected both Steve Lavin and Harrison to return to the Red Storm next fall.

Last Friday night was Walt “Clyde” Frazier bobblehead doll night at Madison Square Garden. The former Knicks superstar and current team broadcaster on MSG Network has long been known for his outrageous threads. Clyde’s bobblehead had him dressed in a suit that looked as if it came off a Holstein cow. Frazier obliged the fans at the Garden by wearing the same outfit for his popular “Clyde’s Closet” game segment with MSG reporter Tina Cervasio. To his credit, Walt pointed that his suit was synthetic so that the PETA folks could relax. No bovine were hurt for Frazier’s sartorial splendor!

Could the Islanders have finally turned a corner? Last Thursday night I witnessed the Isles give up two early goals to the Philadelphia Flyers in Philadelphia and then come back to win in an overtime shootout, 4-3, thanks to Josh Bailey’s goal. Star center John Tavares had a goal and an assist. “It is gratifying to be able to win in a building where we’ve had trouble in the past,” said Islanders head coach Jack Capuano. The Flyers have been so awful this year that they are routinely booed by their fans but this was a big game for the Islanders who actually have a shot at making the playoffs for the first time in five years.

I was disappointed to hear that this will be Tim McCarver’s final year of calling baseball games for Fox. Pete Hamill once called McCarver one of the brightest men he ever met and I wholeheartedly agree. Tim always treats the viewer with intelligence and provides insight into the game that is never cliched.

Since 2000 he has been the host of “The Tim McCarver Show,” a 30-minute interview show on which he conducts candid in-depth interviews with athletes and sports media types. The show has aired on an array of cable networks across the country. It’s on MSG here in New York but one never knows the broadcast time. It would be nice if Fox Sports could find a place on its schedule for the show.

R.A. Dickey’s “Wherever I Wind Up” has just been released in paperback (Plume Books). Dickey and co-writer Wayne Coffey have added a new chapter about his 2012 Cy Young Award-winning season with the Mets, although there is nothing about his subsequent trade to the Toronto Blue Jays since the book production deadline preceded it.

MSG Network reporter Jill Martin who is best known for her “Gimme a Minute” interviews with celebrities during halftime at Knicks games, has written her latest book on fashion, “Weekend Makeover” (Rodale Books).

Life and style

I am beginning to wonder if it was wise for the federal government to bail out General Motors after all after attending the Chevrolet media presentation at the New York International Auto Show that concludes this Sunday. Instead of promoting safe, fuel-efficient cars, Chevy executives were proudly touting the revival of dangerous gas-wasting, male mid-life crisis cars such as the Corvette Stingray and the Camaro Z-28.

Lacoste, the Paris-based company that made the salmon-colored polo shirt with the alligator logo an iconic fashion statement, is celebrating its 80th anniversary this year. Company founder Rene Lacoste was a pioneer in tennis fashion literally from head to toe as he created everything from hats to tennis shoes. Andy Roddick was Lacoste’s most famous tennis endorser for years but now that he has retired, the next great American hope, John Isner, will be wearing Lacoste at the US Open in Flushing Meadows this year.

Mayor Bloomberg has taken a lot of ridicule for trying to limit the serving of sugar-based sodas to 16-ounce servings. I believe that the mayor is overstepping his bounds even if his knowledge of nutrition is correct.

The bottom line is that sugar-filled soft drinks are not good for one’s health but thankfully there are a lot of refreshing beverages in the marketplace that are far superior to Coke and Pepsi. Bai5 makes a line of “one gram of sugar” fruit drinks that are called antioxidant infusions. Harney Teas has a line of bottled organic iced teas and juices that are perfect for the warmer weather, which finally appears to be upon us. For those who like juices, upstate New York’s Red Jacket Orchards produces a number of blends of cold-pressed apple juices and ciders while Miami-based Raaw Foods has a line of nine fruit and vegetable juices such as Very Berry Wheatgrass and Strawberry Purple Carrot that have only natural sugars and plenty of vitamins.

Cable’s FX Network has done well appealing to a wide array of audiences with shows as “Justified,” “Archer” and “The Americans” such as well as movies that have just finished their runs on premium cable channels such as HBO, Starz, and Showtime. Last week FX announced that they will be starting a sister network, FXX, that will be aimed at the 18-34 market. FXX will try to revive a long-dormant form of television programming, the mini-series.

Welcome to the discussion.