Cano Cup | | qchron.com
Ironically, it was a hit that may have ended Robinson Cano’s Mets career. Two weeks ago, Cano hit a perfectly placed ball on the left field line. It should have been a standing double.
Instead, Cano was kicked out at second base, and it wasn’t close. At 39, it seemed obvious that Cano’s two legs gave him away. His hitting wasn’t adequate either, as his batting average was .195 when Mets owner Steve Cohen bit the ball and agreed to release Cano despite his heavy contract.
Mets manager Buck Showalter said the shortened spring training worked against Cano as he missed the entire 2021 season while serving a suspension for using performance-enhancing drugs. Showalter still thought Cano could still be a productive player.
The short spring line-up also worked against Seth Lugo, who was hoping to escape the Mets bullpen and become a member of the starting rotation. “Unfortunately, I haven’t had the time to work hard enough to stretch on longer assignments and I don’t want to do that in the regular season,” he told me. I can’t say I blame him because he doesn’t want to risk unnecessary injury because he’ll be a free agent at the end of the season.
Spring training was delayed and shortened as a new collective bargaining agreement had to be reached between the team owners and the players’ association. The settlement that followed did not sit well with Lugo. “We gave in too soon. I was proud that the Mets were one of four teams that voted against the proposed settlement. He was upset with the union leadership’s failure to cut the length of service in the majors from six to five years before free agency could be granted.
There’s no doubt that Lugo will be in demand (barring a disastrous season à la Michael Conforto). It’s unlikely anyone will outbid Steve Cohen. Lugo was impressed with the little things the Mets owner did. “The family room at Citi Field is state of the art. Alex Cohen (the owner’s wife) visited several stadiums to see how other clubs were taking care of families. My wife is pregnant with our second child, so that really resonates with me,” Lugo said.
Mets President Sandy Alderson is a Marine who has always spoken fondly of his time in the Corps. Helping veterans adjust to civilian life has long been one of his favorite projects. Last Saturday, the Mets held their second annual Military Transition Summit at Citi Field. Workshops on vocational training and CV writing were organized by government officials and recruiters. Officials from various educational institutions were also present to give advice to those who have honorably served this country.
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Mets starting pitcher Taijuan Walker must have a special rabbit’s foot in his locker. Last July in Pittsburgh, he was defeated by the Pittsburgh Pirates and left the game with the Mets trailing the Pirates 6-0. Amazingly, the Mets came back and won the game 7-6. Last Thursday night in Philadelphia, the Phillies hitters beat him. When he left the game, the Mets were behind, this time 7-0. As you know, the Mets staged a seven-run rally in the ninth inning to beat the Phillies by a score of 8-7.
While Mets announcers were exuberant and their fans at Citizens Bank Park elated, Phillies fans were discouraged and their announcers were livid. Michael Barkann, who hosts the Phillies’ postgame shows on NBC Sports Philadelphia, tore the team apart for letting this embarrassment happen. Barkann then cracked a good joke saying that the game will always be remembered as “stinko de Mayo”.
The Atlanta Braves were in town during the Mets’ last homestand. Former Mets outfielder Jeff Francoeur is now a television analyst with the team. Francouer was a fan and media favorite when he was a player due to his affability.
This year, Francouer will see his profile raised as he will be a broadcaster for TBS’ national television shows. He told me that the time spent playing in New York increased his visibility and allowed him to practice speaking spontaneously to a large group of critical people, the New York sports media,
Braves pitcher Ian Anderson, who grew up near Albany, shares a name with flautist and rock band vocalist Jethro Tull. I asked him if he had had a lot of ribs over the years. “You know that! However, I don’t mind that because I like classic rock,” he replied. He agreed with my assessment that “Bungle in the Jungle” and “Living in the Past ” are catchy records.
Yankees manager Aaron Boone is a proponent of seven-inning games for single-intake doubleheaders. “We have 22 games in the next 23 days. It’s a lot of work, but we’ll take care of it. So yeah, I like seven-inning games,” Boone said in a press conference before a doubleheader with the Texas Rangers in the Bronx. Michael King, who has been one of the Yankees’ best relievers, echoed his manager’s sentiments. “The Miners have long had seven-inning matches for doubles, and it worked out well.”
King’s bullpen colleague, Miguel Castro, was traded from the Mets to the Yankees for Joely Rodriguez just before the start of the season. Castro was renowned for his facial hair and long tresses when he pitched at Flushing. The Yankees have a dark corporate view on shaggy appearances, so Castro had to cut his hair and grab a razor for his beard and mustache. He told me that he didn’t miss his old image. He laughed when I told him in Spanish that he looked like his bar mitzvah picture.
Texas Rangers President Jon Daniels grew up in Fresh Meadows and attended PS 26. He told me he would see him mom, who now lives in Bayside, after his Mother’s Day doubleheader club with the Yankees.
Speaking of Bayside, Rangers broadcaster Dave Valle grew up there and attended Holy Cross High School. He was selected in the second round of the 1978 MLB Draft by the Seattle Mariners. He went on to a 13-year career as a light receiver in the majors.
I told Valle that a tavern across from the Kingdome had a “Dave Valle Days” nightly promotion (a parody of the classic TV series title “Death Valley Days”) when I visited Seattle in 1990. The bar would be the price of a glass of draft beer based on Valle’s batting average that day, which was about a dollar fifty, when I was there. “A lot of people got cheap drunk when I was playing for the Mariners!” Vale laughed.
More seriously, Valle created a foundation in 1995 called Esperanza. One of the missions of his non-profit organization is to provide low-interest loans to budding entrepreneurs in the Dominican Republic and to provide clean water to rural communities in that country.
As we know all too well, May has been a wet month here in New York. Texas Rangers manager Chris Woodward, who was an infielder with the Mets, took advantage of Saturday’s rain to attend a Broadway show with his family. “We saw ‘Mrs. Doubtfire.’ I highly recommend it.”
Staying with baseball managers and entertainment, at the end of the pregame presser last Monday, Mets manager Buck Showalter asked the media what the weather forecast was for the game with the Atlanta Braves this that evening. “Misty,” I said to Buck. “You mean ‘Play Misty for me?’ he has answered. I asked Buck what he thought of this Clint Eastwood thriller which celebrates its 50th anniversary this year. “It was a bit dark for me,” he replied.
I highly recommend watching “The Survivor” if you subscribe to HBO or Warner Media’s streaming service, HBO MAX. The film is a dramatization of the life of boxer Harry Haft (played by Ben Foster) who survived Auschwitz by winning death-boxing matches organized by Gestapo officers for their evil entertainment. Haft emigrated to the United States after World War II where he continued his boxing career which ended with a knockout at the hands of the great Rocky Marciano.
Ambassador Mikio Mori, Consul General of Japan in New York, will throw out the ceremonial first pitch at Citi Field prior to tomorrow’s Mets game with the Seattle Mariners. The Mets will celebrate Japanese Heritage Night and the 150th anniversary of baseball’s introduction to Japan.
MSG Network will feature a Flushing-based youth basketball team, the New York Titans, this month.
It’s hard for a beginner to gain name recognition in a field with strong, established competitors. One way to quickly get the attention needed is to sign a deal with a professional sports team to become their official, whatever. That appears to be the strategy of grocery delivery service, Getir, which just signed a promotional contract with the Mets. Getir faces a tough climb competing with behemoths like Fresh Direct, Peapod, Walmart and, of course, Amazon.
Pickleball, which is a hybrid of tennis, ping pong, and badminton, has quickly become the fastest growing sport in America because it can be enjoyed by all ages. Resorts such as Emerson Spa in the Catskills and Sandestin Beach Resort & Spa on Florida’s Gulf Coast have recently added pickleball courts to attract guests.