Fans who come to Citi Field hoping to hear Timmy Trumpet’s “Narco” will be overjoyed to learn potential free agent closer Edwin Diaz has signed a five-year, $102 million contract to remain the Mets’ closer. “Narco” is Diaz’s entrance song.
Diaz was obtained in a trade with the Seattle Mariners after the 2018 season. He was a dominant reliever with the Mariners, but as is often the case when a player goes to a new team, he struggled with the Mets in 2019 and heard the boos from the Flushing faithful. He pitched a lot better during the 60-game 2020 pandemic season and maintained that high level in 2021. Last year he was arguably the best relief pitcher in baseball.
A good chunk of the Mets roster currently is not under contract to the team, so getting Diaz back into the fold has to be a tremendous relief for General Manager Billy Eppler. Even if he stumbles a bit in 2023, Diaz is still better than 99 percent of major league relievers.
The 2022 Philadelphia Phillies reminded me of the 1973 New York Mets as the most unlikely team to make it to the World Series. The ’73 Mets won 82 games but managed to win the National League East title in a down year and then surprised the Cincinnati Reds in the National League Championship Series. The Phillies clinched a playoff spot on the penultimate day of the regular season after having performed below expectations for the first half of the 2022 campaign. They proceeded to knock off the St. Louis Cardinals, San Diego Padres and Atlanta Braves. Not too shabby.
Yes, the 1973 Mets lost the World Series to the Oakland Athletics, who were amid a three-peat, and the Phillies lost to the vastly superior Houston Astros, so there wasn’t a Cinderella finish for either team. Nonetheless, it reminds us of the delightful unpredictability of sports.
One group that must be overjoyed with the Phillies’ postseason run is the Major League Baseball Players Association. Mets pitcher Max Scherzer, who is on the executive board of the MLBPA, told me over the summer that his union’s biggest beef with owners is the number of teams that are not serious about winning and are reluctant to invest in payroll. The term in sports parlance for this phenomenon is “tanking.” The Phillies’ late-season success should serve as an incentive for more team owners to give it their best. Of course, not every owner will feel that way.
Speaking of the 1973 Mets, they should be honored at Citi Field in 2023 to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the “You Gotta Believe!” Mets. They deserve a special day.
See the extended version of Sports Beat every week at qchron.com.
The New York Jets had not won a game against an AFC East division rival since 2018 until they beat the Miami Dolphins, who were playing with a third-string QB, a few weeks ago. Last Sunday, the Jets showed they are worthy of some respect when they defeated the Buffalo Bills, one of the NFL’s best clubs, 20-17 at MetLife Stadium. It will still be an uphill battle to earn a playoff spot, but at least Gang Green will be playing meaningful football games in the second half of the season.
Enough has been said and written about Kyrie Irving promoting an anti-Semitic film on a social media platform. Irving deserves the condemnation he has received, but in fairness to him, he did point out the “documentary” in question is available for sale on Amazon Prime Video. How come there has not been an outcry aimed at Amazon and its CEO, Jeff Bezos, for allowing the commerce of this hate-filled garbage?
The exit of Steve Nash as the head coach of the Brooklyn Nets was overshadowed by the Kyrie controversy. The Nets issued a press release saying the decision for Nash to leave was mutual. Normally, that is diplomatic for saying he was fired. I have it from reliable sources Nash asked to be let out of his contract. My guess is he had his fill of dealing with egomaniacal players who had long tuned him out. He was probably fed up as well having to echo the company namby-pamby line of “this is a growing experience for all of us,” when the media asked him about Irving’s unfortunate tweet.
The New York City Marathon has long been the biggest annual tourism event for our town. This year, with the worst of the Covid-19 pandemic hopefully over, more than 50,000 runners were allowed to participate, and the media center was allowed to return to Tavern on the Green.
One aspect that did not change was the dominance of Kenyan runners. Evans Chebet and Sharon Lokedi won the men’s and women’s races, respectively. Chebet also won the 2022 Boston Marathon.
The last American male to win the NYC Marathon was Alberto Salazar, who won 40 years ago. I asked Bill Rodgers, who won the NYC Marathon four times, and was selling his autobiography, “Marathon Man” (St. Martin’s Press). at the Marathon Expo held at Javits Center, if the failure of an American to win here has hurt the sport. “Absolutely. I don’t see it changing anytime soon. Running is the national sport in Kenya and Ethiopia. Running does not have that kind of support here.”
I told Rodgers he would not recognize Long Island City, which was the most nondescript part of the marathon course when he was in his heyday. He was surprised to learn of the glistening skyscraper apartment buildings that have replaced the factories and old brownstones.
Many runners use the race as an opportunity to help a pet charity. Former WNBC weekend sports anchor Harry Cicma was running for Project Purple, which is the fundraising arm of the Pancreatic Research Foundation. Cicma is busy these days doing occasional sportscasts for the CBS affiliate in Miami, as well as creating numerous tennis programs that are syndicated around the world. It would be nice to have him back on the air here.
One thing Republicans and Democrats can agree on after a heated election season is the need for a good laugh. The annual New York City Comedy Festival runs through Sunday. Conan O’Brien, John Mulaney and Bill Maher are the big names who will be doing stand-up, but there are a lot of up-and-comers who are worth catching at the many comedy clubs and other venues around town that are taking part in the festival.