Last Thursday the Mets and Indians woke up the somnambulant baseball world with a six-player deal that sent All-Star shortstop Francisco Lindor and starting pitcher Carlos Carrasco to Queens and dispatching shortstops Amed Rosario and Andres Gimenez along with a pair of minor league prospects, pitcher Josh Wolf and outfielder Isaiah Greene, to Cleveland.
The mood among Mets fans on social media was ebullient and the media covering the team appeared to approve of the deal as well. This isn’t surprising since Lindor has had a spectacular playing career and Carrasco has been a dependable starter. All trades, particularly those involving young talent, need time for fans to determine the winners and losers, and it’s wise to be cautious. Giddy fans should remember the short-lived euphoria over past infielders Carlos Baerga, Roberto Alomar and the late Tony Fernandez, who came to the team via trades. All three proved to be major disappointments.
As marvelous as Lindor’s talents are, there wasn’t any urgency for his services since the team had high hopes for Gimenez, who was the best player in the farm system in recent years and looked ready based on his brief time with the Mets. Rosario may no longer have been the untouchable he once was but he was serviceable.
The top need for the Mets going into 2021 was obtaining a quality centerfielder and free agent George Springer is the dream target for management and fans. The Mets may still sign Springer but there are complications. Owner Steve Cohen now has to sign Lindor to a long-term contract extension and he should do the same with homegrown outfielder Michael Conforto, who can become a free agent after this season. The clock is also ticking closer to making a decision on starting pitcher Noah Syndergaard.
Two weeks ago Cohen tweeted the Mets could not acquire American League Cy Young Award winner Blake Snell via a trade with the Rays because their farm system was in shambles thanks to ill-advised trades made by former Mets general manager Brodie Van Wagenen. The Padres had the minor leaguers the Rays were looking for and were therefore able to swing a deal with them. The Lindor trade further depletes the Mets’ minor league system.
Blockbuster trades and big-name free agents create excitement but the reality is pro sports teams don’t win titles without developing talent. Cohen acknowledged this at his introductory press conference by stating long-term success begins with a fruitful farm system, as did the returning Sandy Alderson, who was being upped from general manager to team president.
They should stick with that game plan..
The passing of longtime Los Angeles Dodgers manager and larger-than-life personality Tommy Lasorda at age 93 understandably unleashed a torrent of tributes and stories.
My favorite Lasorda tale came from Joe Torre when he was managing the Yankees. In April 2000, the Yankees had lost two straight games to the woeful Minnesota Twins and the two teams were about to play a Wednesday matinee series finale. Torre was in the dugout schmoozing with the media a few hours before the game.
I asked him if the Twins were treating these games as if it was their World Series and if the Yankees, who at the time, had won three World Series in four years and were on the verge of getting their fourth in five years, were having trouble getting motivated for the Twins, especially so early in the season.
“It shouldn’t be that way but that is probably the case here,” Torre candidly replied. “I was managing a bad Mets team in 1979 and we were playing the Dodgers in September. The Dodgers had been in the two previous World Series and yet we wound up sweeping a four-game series. During the last game, Tommy Lasorda looked at his dugout and then turned towards ours and screamed out “What the f--- is going on here?!”
Former Mets catcher Brian Schneider will be returning to his old team as, you guessed it, a catching coach. Schneider was previously a coach for the Miami Marlins. SHe has both the requisite baseball knowledge and communication skills to be an MLB manager in the near future.
Life and style
In the 1960s, CBS would broadcast “Young People’s Concerts” on select Sunday afternoons, which featured the late Leonard Bernstein conducting the New York Philharmonic. The goal was to give adolescents an appreciation of classical music. Bernstein was a charismatic host and would frequently work in jazz and rock to show how a good hook was a good hook no matter how you classified music. It was an excellent introduction to the world of music for baby boomers such as myself.
This past Sunday CBS tried to use the same formula for the National Football League by having the Chicago Bears-New Orleans Saints playoff game broadcast on Nickelodeon in addition to the Tiffany Network. Both CBS and Nickelodeon are wholly owned subsidiaries of Viacom Corporation.
Handling the broadcasting chores for Nickelodeon were Noah Eagle, who is the son of sportscaster and Forest Hills High School alum Ian Eagle, and former Seattle Seahawks receiver as well as current CBS and NFL Network personality Nate Burleson. It was clear both men were having a ball calling the game as they worked on the assumption many in the audience did not know the rules of the game. They worked hard at using relatable analogies for youngsters.
In a nice touch Noah and Nate reminisced about the Nickelodeon programs they watched growing up and had fun with the cable network’s animated graphics, especially its trademark slime.
Every sane person was appalled at the riot that took place at the Capitol last Wednesday, but sports team owners and executives must have been breathing a sigh of relief because very few of the insurrectionists were wearing any apparel with team logos on them. To no one’s surprise, a good portion of the terrorist mob, however, was sporting some kind of MAGA/45/Trump jackets and hats.
I was saddened to learn of the passing of longtime New York publicist Howard Rubenstein, who seemed to have the contact info of every mover and shaker in the United States in his Rolodex. Among his clients were New York Yankees owner George Steinbrenner and a certain Queens-born realtor who loved to get his name in the newspapers and frankly could have used Rubenstein’s advice these past four years after temporarily relocating to Washington, DC. Howard was also instrumental in making the New York City Marathon the international event it has become.
What I admired most about him is he abhorred the notion of a media caste system and treated you with respect no matter the size of your outlet. I know a number of sports team PR directors who could have learned a few things from him.