Former Mets starting pitcher Steven Matz, who was traded to the Toronto Blue Jays over the winter, returned to Citi Field Friday night to start against his old team. His old buddy, Mets first baseman Pete Alonso, rudely greeted him in the first inning by slugging a two-run home run.

Mets fans remember all too well how Matz would get rattled and seem to fall apart at the first sign of adversity. On this night, however, he showed total composure. He settled down and mowed down most batters until the sixth inning when he was pulled by Jays manager Charlie Montoya after yielding a double to Alonso, who would go on to hit another home run to give the Mets a 3-0 win. It was the first big-league win for rookie pitcher Tylor Megill, who deserved to have a couple more but was victimized by the bullpen in previous starts.

Citi Field patrons showed class by giving Matz, a Long Island native, a nice ovation as he left the mound. He responded by tipping his cap and was clearly touched by their gesture.

Unlike a lot of starting pitchers who are prima donnas, Matz has always been accessible and down to earth. Whereas many pitchers stay out of sight before a start, he was happy to soak in the atmosphere of his old stomping grounds before the game. He chuckled when I told him he should retain a good CPA to handle the Canadian income taxes to which he is subject.

Former Met and current SNY pre- and postgame analyst Todd Zeile approved of the Mets’ acquisition of a 41-year-old southpaw pitcher, the peripatetic Rich Hill. “I’m always happy to see somebody else who’s played for as many teams as I have!” he cracked. Hill rewarded Zeile’s faith, pitching decently this past Sunday.

TV play-by-play voice Gary Cohen displayed sophisticated playwright humor on Sunday. He was describing how Blue Jays reliever Trent Thornton often gives up hits because batters know his pitches are always around the plate. “Thornton would be better off being a bit wilder, especially in our town!” he cracked. Unfortunately, his partner, Keith Hernandez, failed to pick up the nomenclature play on words.

July has been a good month for former Mets broadcasters. Last week Gary Thorne returned to handle a three-game series with the Pittsburgh Pirates. In addition, former radio voice Josh Lewin is now hosting a daily “Mets in the Morning” podcast on the team’s website.

This will be a big weekend at Citi Field. Friday night, Mets players will once again don black jerseys, which many fans have long clamored for. The next night Ron Darling, Edgardo Alfonzo and Jon Matlack will be inducted into the Mets Hall of Fame.

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Last Wednesday, YouTube made baseball history with its broadcast of the Baltimore Orioles-Tampa Bay Rays game in that every announcer was a woman. Melanie Newman handled the play-by-play, while Sarah Langs and Alanna Rizzo took on the analyst and field reporter roles, respectively. Lauren Gardner and Heidi Watney anchored the pre- and postgame shows. All were superb.

My only knock was they tried a bit too hard to show how knowledgeable and prepared they were. Baseball can drag at times and having some lighthearted fun, such as the way SNY broadcaster Gary Cohen bashes the popular version of chili served in Cincinnati every time the Mets play the Reds in the Queen City, is a welcomed relief. In fairness, these female broadcasters had not worked with each other in a game so I can understand why they wanted to be all business.

Former Mets outfielder Rajai Davis came back to Citi Field last Friday in his new role as an assistant to MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred. Davis told me he is a liaison between MLB and its players. His job is to elicit the concerns of players and report back to the Commissioner’s office and, one hopes, establish a dialog. Until now, players’ concerns have only been addressed by their union with management staying removed.

Davis, who had a solid 14-year career, is a good choice because he was always popular with teammates, the media and obviously, team officials. I hope he will use his position to convince vaccine-hesitant players to get their inoculations. With the collective bargaining agreement expiring at the conclusion of the 2021 season, I am hoping he will emphasize to players the importance of cooperating with the media. In prepandemic times, media access to the clubhouse was a contentious issue in labor negotiations. Most players understand press coverage has increased their compensation exponentially but there are always some yahoos who fail to recognize that basic fact.

Life and style

The 44th Annual Kennedy Center Honors will take place Dec. 5 in Washington, DC. Among those who will be honored are Motown Records founder Berry Gordy, “Saturday Night Live” impresario Lorne Michaels, singer-actress-activist Better Midler and singer-songwriter Joni Mitchell. Historically, the president of the United States always attended the ceremony, but that tradition was shattered when President, and Jamaica Estates native, Donald J. Trump steadfastly refused to attend it, much the same way he avoided the April White House Correspondents Dinner. It will be interesting to see whether President Biden will attend both.

CBS will broadcast the Kennedy Center Honors a few weeks later, but no official date has been set yet.

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