Mike Puma has been the Mets beat writer for the New York Post since 2010, and he’s the gold standard for anyone who follows the team. He has just penned a history of the Mets, which encapsulates the last 25 years titled, “If These Walls Could Talk: Stories from the New York Mets” (Triumph Books).
Puma smartly avoids getting caught in the Bernie Madoff rabbit hole, which destroyed the Mets for a good chunk of the time he was in the Citi Field press box. He instead gives us grueling recollections of David Wright valiantly trying to get back on the field despite painful spinal stenosis, and Johan Santana’s no-hitter at Citi Field on June 1, 2012. Santana’s no-no remains the only one in Mets history, and there is a Twilight Zone aspect to it because his career seemed to rapidly deteriorate after that game.
In terms of gossip, Puma goes into detail about how outfielder Lastings Milledge went from an untouchable first-round draft pick to persona non grata, and gets a Mets exec on the record to explain why the team let Daniel Murphy leave as a free agent after his 2015 postseason heroics and why they screwed up. He also reveals former Mets manager Bobby Valentine and ex-GM Steve Phillips have buried the hatchet and are now buddies.
My only complaint is Puma doesn’t give his version of what happened when players refused to talk to any reporters if they were in the Mets clubhouse because he joked in print the previous day the only foreign substance you’d find on pitcher Bartolo Colon was peanut butter.
Perhaps he’ll save that anecdote for his second book, which I hope won’t be too far into the future.
Former Mets general manager Brodie Van Wagenen made a lot of dubious personnel decisions, so it’s hard to rank which was the most boneheaded. A sure contender was his decision to sign former Yankees reliever Dellin Betances in late 2019 by giving him a $10 million contract for 2020 with a player option at the same salary for 2021. It was the latter part of the deal that was the head-scratcher.
The Mets bullpen was putrid in 2019 so Van Wagenen took a flyer on the hard thrower who had been successful in the Bronx even if his Yankees counterpart, Brian Cashman, had no interest in retaining him, which should have been a red flag.
Unfortunately, Betances rewarded Van Wagenen’s faith by posting an egregious 7.71 earned run average while racking up a wide array of injuries. Adding salt to the wound, Betances was just placed on the 60-day injured list and will probably not pitch in 2021.
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Astoria native Bob Costas has done nearly every on-air television role imaginable and has performed them all admirably. His best talent may be that of a thoughtful interviewer, to which those who remember his “Later with Bob Costas” overnight show on NBC, which ran from 1985 through 1994, will attest.
Costas will dust off both his interviewer’s chair and microphone again as HBO announced it will shortly launch “Back on the Record With Bob Costas.” Expect boldface-name guests from the worlds of sports, politics, business and entertainment to be sitting across from him.
Recently retired New England Patriots receiver Julian Edelman will be joining the panel of Showtime’s “Inside the NFL” this fall.
Life and style
“Hysterical” is an unflinching documentary that examines the history of comediennes and the obstacles that even today’s best-known stand-ups face. It was produced by cable’s FX Network and can be seen on the Hulu streaming service. There are clips of such legends as Phyllis Diller and Joan Rivers, but what really stands out are the childhood recollections of such current comedy stars as Jessica Kirson, Judy Gold, Nikki Glaser and Iliza Schlesinger. Just about the only name female comic who is missing here is Susie Essman of HBO’s “Curb Your Enthusiasm” fame.
The idea of holding an Academy Awards ceremony when nearly every traditional indoor movie theater was shuttered in 2020 struck me as a bit strange.