Trevor Bauer, who won the 2020 National League Cy Young Award pitching in a shortened season for the Reds, was the most hyped free agent this off-season. Mets fans wouldn’t have given a remote thought of Bauer coming to Queens back when the Wilpon family owned the team. With the Mets now owned by deep-pocketed Steven Cohen, their fans had a right to dream.
The Citi Field faithful and many in the media were less than sanguine about the Mets finishing runner-up to the Dodgers in the Bauer sweepstakes. There was some anger directed at Bauer’s agent, Rachel Luba, for using the Mets as leverage in getting a lucrative contract. Folks, that’s what an agent is supposed to do. There were suspicions Bauer’s destination of choice was always Downtown LA. That probably was the case. Bauer grew up in the San Fernando Valley not far from Universal Studios and graduated from UCLA with an engineering degree. Throw in the fact the Dodgers have played in three of the last four World Series, and were willing to pay him $40 million in 2021, and it’s hard to quibble with his decision.
While I never begrudge the compensation an athlete can command, $40 million seems an excessive amount to pay Bauer. He’s not the Nationals’ Max Scherzer or the Phillies’ Aaron Nola and certainly not our own Jacob deGrom. Bauer’s contract allows him the option to become a free agent after the 2021 season. Mets fans still bristle recalling the great 2000 season pitcher Mike Hampton gave them only to watch him depart to the Colorado Rockies a year after the Mets obtained him in a trade with the Astros.
Frankly, Bauer hasn’t impressed me when I’ve seen him pitch. The Yankees used to routinely feast off of him when he was on the Indians. He also had control issues on the mound in the games I watched on TV.
Former Mets general manager and current SNY analyst Jim Duquette forthrightly wondered why the Mets were not as aggressive in their pursuit of centerfielder George Springer, whom they really needed, and who wound up signing with the Blue Jays, as they were with Bauer, who was frankly a luxury item.
If the Mets are looking for a good and inexpensive left-handed veteran pitcher to replace the recently traded Steven Matz they should consider Gio Gonzalez, who has long been underrated. Yes, he’s 35 but he knows how to pitch, as Mets fans will glumly recall how many times he beat their Flushing heroes while on the hill for the Nationals.
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Mets outfielder Michael Conforto and Yankees infielders Gio Urshela and Luke Voit were honored at the annual Thurman Munson Dinner, which was held virtually last Tuesday. This annual gala, named after the late Yankees captain whose life ended in a tragic place crash in 1979, benefits AHRC, a nonprofit whose mission is to enhance the lives of those with cognitive disabilities, especially minors. It has raised over $15 million through the years. Voit spoke passionately about his younger sister, who has Down’s syndrome, in a Zoom press confab before the start of the event.
Conforto told the press there was nothing new to report regarding a contract extension. He said he would very much like to remain a Met. He also has been the Mets union representative for the last few years. He ducked my question about what the Major League Baseball Players Association’s demands would be in the upcoming negotiations with the owners since the current collective bargaining agreement expires after this season.
The sexual harassment allegations against former Mets manager Mickey Callaway are certainly troubling, but what was even more dispiriting was how too many in the sports media and baseball executives were all too willing to act as judge, jury and executioner upon hearing the news.
Callaway claims his relationships with all of the women in question were consensual. Major League Baseball says it is conducting an investigation and therefore it is best to wait until the findings are revealed. Even if things go as well for Callaway as he could wish for at this point, it’s going to take a toll on his marriage.
I am fully cognizant this has nothing to do with the issue at hand but I appreciated how Callaway treated those of us from smaller media outlets with respect during his two-year tenure as Mets manager.
NBC’s “Saturday Night Live” paid tribute to CBS’s “NFL Today” as it spoofed its various air personalities with its cold opening which was designed to tie in with the next day’s Super Bowl. Beck Bennett, Mikey Day, Chris Redd and Kenan Thompson were fine as Boomer Esiason, Phil Simms, Nate Burleson and James Brown respectively, but Alex Moffat really killed as Bill “Coach” Cohwer as he accurately captured his voice and mannerisms.
PBS held a three-day session for the 2021 Television Critics Association winter press tour via on Zoom last week. Among the offerings in the works for this spring are a limited weekly series, “Philly DA,” which looks at that city’s chief legal officer, the unconventional Larry Krasner, and his bureau (think of it as a more serious version of A&E’s “Parking Wars,” which looks at the Philadelphia Parking Authority with both sensitivity and humor); “Tulsa: The Fire & The Forgotten” which examines the centennial of the racist arson attack on the economically successful African-American community in Oklahoma’s second-largest city and did not get the attention it has deserved until President Trump held an ill-advised re-election rally there this past July; and there will be yet another Ken Burns documentary as he turns his focus to iconic author Ernest Hemingway.
A PBS executive told me the traditional weekend specials featuring concerts from rock, pop, country and R&B stars from yesterday and today, which are shown for fund-raising purposes, will probably be delayed because of the pandemic.
Speaking of the Covid pandemic, a Korean company, Mamask, has created face masks made of both cotton and copper ion fabric which are more comfortable to wear, less prone to collecting odors and better at warding off viruses than most masks on the market. They can also be washed so they don’t have to be disposed of after wearing them a few times. The company also makes sports masks for those trying to exercise in these tough times. Log onto mamask-usa.com for more information.
Covid took a toll on one of the biggest culinary events in our town, the New York City Wine & Food Festival which takes place each October. Festival organizers are hopeful the NYCWFF will be back this fall. It is tentatively scheduled to run from Oct. 14 to 17. The NYCWFF has always taken philanthropy seriously as it has always contributed to various food banks in our area. Last week the NYCWFF announced it will be working with God’s Love We Deliver, which delivers medically tailored meals to those with serious illnesses.