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Is Zack on track?

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Posted: Thursday, June 26, 2014 10:30 am

Mets fans have heard the term “phenomenon” used to describe pitcher Zack Wheeler ever since he arrived from the San Francisco Giants in exchange for Carlos Beltran in July 2011. The season-ending elbow injury to Matt Harvey put even more attention and pressure on Wheeler to pick up the slack for the Mets to have any shot at a winning season in 2014.

While Zack certainly can hit the upper 90s with his fastball, his control is awful. The Mets have played a number of nine-inning games that have gone way past three hours, and they always seem to be ones Wheeler started because he goes to full counts on nearly every hitter and then frequently walks them.

Last Friday Wheeler turned in the kind of masterful pitching performance that Mets general manager Sandy Alderson has been waiting nearly three years for, as he beat the Miami Marlins 1-0 in a complete game. Wheeler threw 111 pitches in nine innings, the number he normally throws before the end of the fifth.

If Zack Wheeler can find his command, then Mets fans will have a reason to smile.

Rookie Mets pitcher Jacob deGrom had a reason to smile after picking up his first major league win Saturday. He had pitched very well in most of his previous starts, but the Mets offense has been a no-show when he takes the mound. Granted, the Mets puny offense rarely assists any of the team’s starters, but it has been egregiously missing in deGrom’s case.

During Friday’s 3-2 loss to the Marlins, the Mets had two runners called out trying to score on fly balls, in the 8th and 9th innings. That kind of base-running failure is astonishing.

The Yankees held their sixth annual Project HOPE (Helping Others Persevere & Excel) Week during their last homestand. It’s the gold standard of sports teams’ community service.

The brainchild of Yankees media relations director Jason Zillo, HOPE highlights the selfless work of individuals who give an incredible amount of time and energy to help the less fortunate. A good example is how last week the Yankees saluted Greg Field, whose nonprofit group, Career Gear, provides employment counseling and business suits to men with low incomes. The Yankees and Field partnered with DKNY, the clothing company founded by fashion icon and Forest Hills native Donna Karan, to provide business attire to those in need.

Howard Beach native son Joe De Sena has made his mark in various Iron Man competitions and has created his own obstacle course competition called the Spartan Race. He has just written a motivation book titled “Spartan Up” (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt).

Just because Carmelo Anthony opted out of his existing deal with the Knicks doesn’t necessarily mean that he won’t eventually re-sign with them. Anthony has stated for over a year that his intention was to test the waters. I can’t say I blame him for exercising rights that are a basic part of capitalism.

Watching Team USA give up that late goal against Portugal on Sunday to snatch a tie from the jaws of victory in the World Cup reminded me of how the Rangers blew third-period leads in all three games played in Los Angeles during the Stanley Cup Final against the Kings.

The World Cup has certainly gotten far higher television ratings and media interest than ever before, and that means there will be interest paid to soccer on all levels in this country. Major League Soccer Medical Coordinator John Gallucci Jr. has written a book that should be read by all amateur soccer players and their families titled “Soccer Injury Prevention and Treatment” (Demos Medical Publishing).

File this one under the “It’s about time” category. An athletic equipment company, One World Futbol Project, has created a soccer ball that does not lose air and thus never has to be inflated. A company representative said that they are working on a basketball that will not require additional air as well.

Former Mets pitcher RA Dickey is certainly playing for a better baseball team with the Toronto Blue Jays, but it was clear after speaking with him last week at Yankee Stadium that he is still upset the Mets traded him right after he won the Cy Young Award in 2012. RA told me he certainly understands the frustration of Mets fans who are tired of watching the team pinch pennies on payroll.

Life and style

As expected, fast-food restaurants and yogurt parlors were the leading types of businesses at the annual International Franchise Expo, held last week at the Javits Center. Fitness emporiums were also quite visible as more Americans are aware of the importance of exercise and diet in fighting obesity and a host of medical issues.

The World Yacht Co. has reconstituted a ferry and turned it into a restaurant called the North River Lobster Co. The gimmick is that the ferry restaurant leaves its 41st Street port a few times a day for a complimentary 30-minute cruise on the Hudson. There is absolutely no minimum so you don’t have to even buy a soft drink to enjoy a quick boat ride. The food is quite good, by the way. A World Yacht executive told me that they are thinking of expanding this ferry-restaurant concept to the Long Island City waterfront.

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