The future sure seemed quite bright for Steven Matz when he finally graduated from the Mets minor league system in the summer of 2015 to pitch for the varsity team at Citi Field. He won all four of his decisions and pitched well in the Mets’ postseason run. Many thought he would be a star Mets left-handed starter in the mold of Al Leiter and Jerry Koosman.
As a further bonus Matz was almost as good a hitter as he was on the mound. The fact that he grew up in Suffolk County as a Mets fan, and that his last name sounds so close to their beloved team, understandably endeared him to the Flushing faithful.
Matz had some shoulder and elbow issues in 2016 and 2017 but was certainly serviceable though far from spectacular. He was injury-free in 2018 and 2019 but problems were evident in both seasons. For every good start he had, it seemed as if he would get bombed in at least another two. In 2019, then-Mets manager Mickey Callaway, who came to the organization with a reputation for being a pitching guru, was forced to move him to the bullpen in the hopes of restoring his confidence.
The bottom truly dropped out for Matz during the shortened 2020 season. He lost all five of his decisions and his earned run average was an unsightly 9.68. His disastrous pitching was a major reason the Mets failed to make the expanded MLB playoffs this past summer.
Many were wondering if the Mets would cut Matz loose by not offering him a contract for 2021 since ownership had that right. If the Wilpon family had not sold the team the odds are Matz would have received his walking papers.
Fortunately for Matz, new owner Steven Cohen and team President Sandy Alderson decided he was worth a $5.3 million investment. Lefty starters are hard to find and Matz can still throw in the mid-90s.
Matz has always been a good guy in the clubhouse, and his problem seems to be more with confidence and keeping his composure when things don’t go well in an inning such as a bad call from an umpire, bad fielding behind him or a bloop hit, than with a lack of talent. Whoever the Mets pitching coach is next season had better be a good amateur psychologist.
Relief pitcher Trevor May became the first free agent to be signed by the Mets since Steve Cohen became CEO. He quickly learned the perks of working in Queens as he raved on social media about a sandwich he ate at Benateri’s Italian Gourmet Deli in College Point. The Queens Economic Development Corp. should hire May to be its spokesman for our borough’s food purveyors.
See the extended version of Sports Beat every week at qchron.com.
Let’s hope the vaccines from Pfizer and Moderna will make Americans as immune to Covid-19 as the New York Jets are to winning football games.
The Jets’ 31-28 loss to the Las Vegas Raiders because of a completed pass from QB Derek Carr to speedy wide receiver Henry Ruggs in the final four seconds of the game would normally go down as yet another infamous moment in Gang Green history that will be rehashed for years. Adding to the ignominy was Jets defensive coordinator Gregg Williams’ bizarre decision to try to blitz Carr instead of placing more secondary players near the end zone.
Fortunately the Jets’ heartbreaking loss Sunday, while keeping them winless, also kept them in position to have the top draft pick in the 2021 NFL Draft. Clemson University QB Trevor Lawrence appears to be the grand prize for the team having the first selection.
The Jets can’t afford to let their guard down and win a game for the hell of it, risking the top pick, because the Jacksonville Jaguars have a 1-11 record and, like the Jets, they refuse not to lose.
A favorite pro wrestling villain of baby boomers, Pat Patterson, passed away this past week at the age of 79. His main event bouts with then-WWF champions such as Bruno Sammartino and Pedro Morales sold out Madison Square Garden in the early 1970s. Patterson was a pioneer in that he never tried to hide the fact he was a gay athlete at a time when that was unheard of.
Ian O’Connor has long been one of the best sports columnists and authors of sports titles. In recent years he has spent more time working in the electronic media on ESPN as he was a frequent panelist on their old Sunday morning show, “The Sports Reporters,” as well as hosting an occasional show on ESPN New York’s radio outlet, WEPN.
Last week O’Connor announced on Twitter he was a casualty of the latest round of layoffs from the Worldwide Leader in Sports. True to form, Ian showed a sense of humor as he urged any coaches whom he tried to get fired in print or on the air to raise a glass of champagne.
Life and style
Ulster County, located about 90 minutes north of Queens in the heart of New York State’s Hudson Valley, is actively promoting its winter resorts being open in spite of Covid-19. Skiers will once again be welcomed at Belleayre Mountain while ice skaters can practice their triple lutz technique at Stoeckler Memorial Park in Ellenville or at the Mohonk Mountain House in New Paltz. Cross country skiing is also available at Mohonk (mohonk.com).
Hillary Clinton seems to have an affinity for streaming services. Last spring she was the subject of an authorized lengthy documentary, “Hillary,” which aired on Hulu. Next spring she will be co-producing and co-hosting along with her daughter, Chelsea Clinton, a documentary series on Apple TV+ titled “ Gutsy Women.”
Fox will be debuting its sequel to its very popular “The Masked Singer” when “The Masked Dancer” airs on Dec. 27. Comic actor Craig Robinson will serve as host and panelists will include Paula Abdul and Ken Jeong, who will still be performing the same role on “The Masked Singer.”
It would seem to be just a matter of time until “The Masked Comedian” gets a go-ahead from Fox. If that were to occur it would only be proper if Murray Langston, better known to baby boomers as the Unknown Comic who wore a paper bag over his head and was part of Chuck Barris’s “Gong Show” troupe, was a panelist.
Few menu items in the history of McDonald’s seem to have the mystique of the McRib (it has long been part of Jimmy Kimmel’s monologs) as it debuted in 1981 but was yanked off four years later due to poor sales. There are a lot of fans of this seasoned boneless pork sandwich because McDonald’s has brought it back periodically for a limited run. The last time it did so was in 2012 and recently it has been revived for another go-round for this holiday season. There is no official word yet as to when it will disappear but my guess is early 2021.
I am waiting for McDonald’s to revive the Angus Burger and to finally get around to a meatless plant-based burger.
Kenny Jeremiah’s name may not resonate with most but I guarantee if you are of a certain age you have heard him sing many times on your radio. His soulful voice handled the lead on the 1967 No. 1 hit, “Expressway To Your Heart,” which would be covered years later by Dan Aykroyd and John Belushi as part of their Blues Brothers act. “Expressway” is one of Bruce Springsteen’s favorite oldies and he has covered it on occasion in concert.
He was also Shirley Goodman’s singing partner on a big 1975 disco hit, “Shame, Shame, Shame.” Oldies fans might remember the group used the moniker of “Shirley & Company.”
Kenny Jeremiah grew up in Ozone Park and graduated from John Adams High School. Last week, Kenny’s brother Al, who is a singer himself and lives in Howard Beach, broke the sad news that he passed away after a three-week battle with Covid-19 at the age of 77.