There was so much promise when Steven Matz was called up by the Mets from the minors in 2015. He grew up in Suffolk County and quickly became a hero with both his superb pitching and his ability to hit, which made it seem as if he was a position player.
Unfortunately his early success proved to be fleeting and by 2020 all the fan goodwill seemed like a distant memory as he was usually heading to the showers by the third inning.
There was some talk at the end of the season the Mets wouldn’t offer a contract to Matz and thus grant him free agency. Figuring left-handed pitchers always command some kind of value, the Mets offered him a $5.3 million contract, which Matz accepted. That was no guarantee, however, Matz would be part of the team’s future, and last Thursday he was traded by new acting Mets general manager Zack Scott.
Scott received three minor league pitchers from the Toronto Blue Jays in the trade but none appear to be blue-chip prospects. It would have been nice had Scott been able to reclaim one of the two pitching prospects, Simeon Woods Richardson or Anthony Kay, whom former Mets general manager Brodie Van Wagenen sent to Toronto in exchange for pitcher Marcus Stroman. That deal has yet to pay dividends for the Mets.
Former Mets second baseman Daniel Murphy announced his retirement last week. Mets fans will fondly recall his hitting heroics during the 2015 postseason. However, it was Murphy’s shoddy defense that infuriated both fans and Mets executives. Mets GM Sandy Alderson allowed Murphy to leave the organization as a free agent following the 2015 World Series, and he signed a deal with the Washington Nationals. Mets pitchers could never get him out after he no longer called Flushing home. Alderson has acknowledged letting Murphy go was a blunder.
The Mets announced Alderson’s predecessor, Omar Minaya, will be returning as a goodwill ambassador for the club. My guess is Minaya, who grew up in Corona and attended PS 19, IS 61 and Newtown High School, will do more than make appearances before community groups at the behest of the Mets. Expect him to do scouting and to be an advisor to Scott who became acting GM after the Jared Porter debacle.
Van Wagenen has dusted himself off after being dismissed by Mets owner Steve Cohen. A former sports agent at CAA, Van Wagenen is the new chief operating officer of Roc Nation Sports, where he will represent athletes in all sports, not just baseball.
The mercurial Yoenis Cespedes is a Roc Nation client. I wish Brodie the best of luck. He’ll need it.
See the extended version of Sports Beat every week at qchron.com.
The honeymoon between many Mets fans and owner Cohen appeared to come to an unexpected end when it was learned Cohen had lent financial assistance to the Melvin Capital hedge fund, which had its clock cleaned by an army of small investors when it tried to short GameStop common stock. Cohen said his family had received threats and he would be temporarily suspending his Twitter account in a press release issued by the Mets. Clearly, there is no place for threatening anyone’s family on social media or anywhere else.
I observed a lot of folks on social media platforms were angry about the Mets’ failure to land free agent centerfielder George Springer who opted instead to go with the Toronto Blue Jays. I have a feeling had the Mets signed Springer a lot of the vitriol directed at Cohen on Twitter wouldn’t have happened. Cohen has quickly discovered the downside of owning a professional sports franchise.
ESPN will be debuting its latest “30 for 30” sports documentary, “Al Davis vs. the NFL,” tonight (Thursday, Feb. 4). The documentary examines the tempestuous relationship between the street brawler owner of the former Oakland Raiders, Al “Just Win, Baby” Davis, and the smooth-as-silk Commissioner of the National Football League during its key 1960s through 1980s growth spurt Alvin “Pete” Rozelle.
Rozelle loved stability and hated upheaval such as franchise relocation, while Davis was a disruptor who wanted to maximize the value of his franchise. The two men bumped heads when Davis wanted to move his franchise from Oakland to Los Angeles in 1980 in order to be in a bigger market and generate more revenue that he wouldn’t have to share with his fellow owners, unlike national television contract money. Rozelle and the majority of NFL owners forbade the move but Davis sued them in federal court as an antitrust violation and eventually won.
Davis’ victory opened the door for other NFL teams switching cities and showed a blueprint for how sports team owners could get municipalities to help fund their palatial stadiums.
“Al Davis vs. the NFL” also uses technology and voice actors to create avatars of both men so that it appears they are talking to the audience in 2021, even though Rozelle died in 1996 and David passed in 2011.
“30 for 30” documentaries rarely disappoint and this is no exception. “Al Davis v. the NFL,” like all ESPN documentaries, can be viewed on demand via the ESPN+ streaming service.
One staple of American culture that should fall victim to the Covid-19 pandemic is the Super Bowl party, unless you are in a warm weather clime and can hold it outdoors. That is a key reason why you won’t see any Budweiser commercials during Super Bowl LV, nor in all likelihood during the runup of the game.
CBS Sports will be carrying Super Bowl LV, and although Anheuser-Busch will be foregoing the “big game” for the first time in 37 years, CBS Sports CEO Sean McManus told the media via Zoom last week his network has had no trouble selling out its inventory of ad spots. CBS is lucky to have one of the most intriguing Super Bowl storylines in quite a while, with the NFL’s most exciting young quarterback, Kansas City Chiefs star Patrick Mahomes, facing off with Mr. Super Bowl himself, Tom Brady, who is finishing off his first year with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers (who will be hosting the game at their home field, Raymond James Stadium) after a lengthy tenure with the New England Patriots.
The bimonthly Viacom glossy magazine “Watch” is marking its 15th anniversary with its current issue, which includes a profile of “NFL Today” anchor James “JB” Brown.
While I knew Brown was a star basketball player at Harvard University I was unaware he was drafted by the Atlanta Hawks, though he never made the team. He was also an executive with Eastman Kodak and Xerox before embarking on a sports media career.
The pandemic won’t stop another Super Bowl Sunday TV tradition, the Puppy Bowl, which airs at 2 p.m. on both Animal Planet and the new Discovery Plus streaming service. ESPN is lending two of its air personalities, Sage Steele and former Rego Park resident Steve Levy, to call the canine action.
The time slot following the Super Bowl has traditionally been a coveted launching spot for new broadcast network primetime series. This year CBS is giving the honor to a reboot of “The Equalizer” starring Dana “Queens Latifah” Owens as vigilante Robyn McCall.
In a teleconference with media to promote the show, Owens said the hardest aspect of playing McCall is mastering the requisite fight choreography.
Incidentally the interior scenes of “The Equalizer” are being filmed in the Izod Center, located adjacent to MetLife Stadium. Many sports fans will recall the Izod Center was home to both the New Jersey Nets of the NBA and the New Jersey Devils back in the day.
It would be smart if “The Equalizer” followed in the footsteps of another terrific CBS crime procedural, “Person of Interest,” and shot exterior scenes in Queens.
Legalweek, the annual technology show for lawyers and researchers, has long been one of the largest trade shows in our area and generally takes place for a week at the New York Hilton. Covid-19 forced the show to go virtual this year but itsorganizers were still able to land big name keynote speakers, as both Chris Christie and Stacey Abrams addressed attendees via Zoom..