You didn’t have to be the Oracle of Delphi to predict the New York Mets were going to dismiss their manager, Luis Rojas, at the end of the season. Managing teams in big markets with decent-sized payrolls that finish with more losses than wins for two straight seasons will lead to that outcome. Rojas also made several questionable in-game decisions that were dissected on both the Mets’ radio and TV postgame shows.
If that weren’t enough, Mets president Sandy Alderson held a press conference last Wednesday, stating that while he was impressed with Rojas’ affability and his ability to keep players from pointing fingers at each other when the season spiraled out of control in the second half, the results must reflect the process. Unfortunately, they didn’t for Rojas.
As is often the case with managers who get the ax, Rojas had a lot of bad luck with player injuries, as well as the number of players who performed well below their career averages. To his immense credit, he never publicly expressed any irritation about his hitters’ failings or closer Edwin Diaz’s blown saves.
I always admired how Rojas made himself available to all media at Citi Field. He never “big leagued” those from smaller outlets. Trust me: Not all managers are as accessible as Luis Rojas was.
Interestingly, Rojas may have known he was on shaky ground even when the Mets were in first place, and their first playoff appearance in five years seemed all but assured. I was chatting with him just before the All-Star break about what he planned to do with his free time that week. He said he and his wife would take their son to the Bronx Zoo, the Statue of Liberty and a couple of museums.
I told him it was a shame Broadway theaters were closed because of Covid-19 concerns but they were scheduled to reopen in mid-September. He and his wife could catch a few shows after the season ended. “My contract expires at the end of the season, so who knows?” he replied.
My feeling was Rojas was being modest, but in retrospect, he may have had legitimate reasons for concern. Perhaps he knew that ace pitcher Jacob deGrom’s arm issues were more dire than what was being told to the public. As deGrom went, so did the Mets. More likely, however, was the public knowledge that Alderson would be hiring a president of baseball operations after the season ended and that person would want to bring in his own manager.
Rojas can take solace from San Francisco Giants skipper Gabe Kapler, who is a lock to be named the NL Manager of the Year. He was fired by the Philadelphia Phillies two years ago.
See the extended version of Sports Beat every week at qchron.com.
Ken Singleton had a solid 15-year career as an outfielder for the New York Mets, Montreal Expos and Baltimore Orioles, but he is best known around these parts for being a longtime member of the New York Yankees television broadcast team.
Singleton has wanted to retire from broadcasting for a while, but his bosses always begged him to return, even if that meant he could make up his own work schedule. He always wound up giving into their wishes. Over the past weekend, he announced he had missed too much time watching his grandchildren grow up and this time he really was calling it a career at the age of 74.
With his smooth baritone delivery, I have no doubt Singleton could have been a baseball broadcaster even if he never played a day in the majors. He is that good.
Speaking of athletes who became broadcasters, former NFL wide receiver Nate Burleson, who is both a panelist on “The NFL Today,” and an anchor on “CBS Mornings,” and also does occasional work for the NFL Network and the weeknight entertainment news show “Extra,” is on the cover of the new issue of the glossy “Watch Magazine.”
In a nice sign of normalcy, New York Comic Con gets underway today and runs for the weekend at the Javits Center. While there will be fewer exhibitors and celebrity panels than in past years for obvious reasons, the professional wrestling community will be out in full force, as several WWE stars such as John Cena and AEW talent such as announcer Tony Schiavone will be on hand for meets-and-greets with fans. Proof of vaccination is required. Allow extra time for entry.
New York City’s premier foodie event, the New York City Wine & Food Festival, returns to town the following week. It starts Thursday, Oct. 14, and runs through Sunday, Oct. 17. The great food sampling sponsored by ShopRite will take place that Saturday and Sunday from noon to 6 p.m. at Manhattan’s Pier 94. For more information, log onto nycwff.org.