Sports Beat “ Mets fans shouldn’t panic”

By Lloyd Carroll

      Although it was a foregone conclusion that Mets ace pitcher Matt Harvey would need Tommy John surgery to repair damage on his pitching elbow and miss the entire 2014 season, many Mets fans on social media along with a good  number of sportswriters were acting as if they had just learned that the sky was falling. You would have thought these folks were expecting a parade down the Canyon of Heroes next November if Harvey were part of the Mets rotation in 2014.

      The success rate for Tommy John surgery is reportedly over 90%. Given Matt Harvey’s competitive nature, which probably breeds the arrogance that I wrote about a couple of weeks ago, I fully expect him to be as good, if not better, when he returns to the mound in 2015.

       Starting pitching is not really a problem for the Mets the way their anemic offense is.. Zack Wheeler, Jon Niese, and the incredibly underappreciated Dillon Gee. Carlos Torres came out of nowhere to pitch fairly well when Harvey got hurt back in August. Veteran Daisuke Matsuzaka was putrid in his first three starts with the Mets and then became unhittable. Fellow scrap heap pickup Aaron Harang pitched decently as well. They both merit serious consideration to be part of the 2014 Mets pitching staff.

      The Amazin’s should also invite former ace Johan Santana to spring training assuming that he has not signed with another team now that his extremely lucrative deal with the team has finally expired. Santana missed the entire 2013 season recovering from shoulder surgery.

      At this point Mets fans should be more worried about whether closer Bobby Parnell will be able to be his old self after he underwent neck surgery in August. Parnell visited the Mets clubhouse the last week of the season wearing a neck brace and said that he lost nearly thirty pounds. He said that his wife would have to do all of the driving between Queens and their off-season home in North Carolina.

     The Mets bullpen was stretched quite thin last season and if the fourth and fifth starters turn out to be question marks in 2014 the team will have no choice but to fortify their corps of relievers.

      The most pleasant relief pitching surprise for the Mets last year was the performance of 41 year-old LaTroy Hawkins who completed his 17th big league season. Hawkins was superb as both a setup man and as a closer after Parnell was placed on the disabled list. He was also a go-to guy for the media in the clubhouse as well as a mentor to younger pitchers. Mets general manager Sandy Alderson should reward him with a new contract with a salary upgrade.

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       You have to wonder if Dusty Baker’s days as manager of the Cincinnati Reds were numbered when the Mets took two out of three games from them on their final road trip. The Reds were fighting for a playoff berth and dropping the series to the Mets helped cost them home field advantage for the wildcard game. The Pirates beat them 6-2 in that game at Pittsburgh’s PNC Park last Tuesday. Three days later the Reds fired Baker.

      Paleyfest is an annual celebration of television shows that is normally held in Los Angeles. Given the large amount of television shows that are now being filmed here these days, Paleyfest made its New York debut last weekend at the Paley Center for Media which used to be known as the Museum of Broadcasting.

     One of the shows that was feted was CBS’s Tuesday night procedural “Person Of Interest” that films a lot of its outdoor scenes in Queens and uses Long Island City’s Silvercup Studios for a number of its interior shots. The star of the series is Jim Caviezel who plays a mysterious ex-CIA agent who now acts as a guardian angel to the unsuspecting whose lives are in danger.

      Caviezel’s big break came in a 1999 time-traveling film, “Frequency,” that was filmed in Astoria and had the 1969 Miracle Mets run to a World Series championship as a backdrop. The movie also looked at the lives of New York firefighters. “We used a lot of real-life NYFD members as consultants. Sadly, fourteen of them were killed in the line of duty on 9/11. I am still in touch with many of their family members,” Caviezel told me last Thursday.

      New York Comic Con, the annual Javits Center comic book convention that makes its return from October 10-13, is further emulating its San Diego namesake, by becoming the place for television networks to showcase both recently debuted shows and those that will be coming on the air in mid-season. New York Comic Con has always been a rendevous spot for wrestling fans to meet their heroes from yesteryear. Among those who will be appearing this year are Hulk Hogan, Jerry “The King” Lawler, Jim “Hacksaw” Duggan, and Mick Foley.   

      Current World Wrestling Entertainment personality Mike “The Miz” Mizanin made an appearance at an unusual venue for him, the CSE Sports Marketing Symposium that brings out the movers and shakers of the sports business world such as NBC Sports CEO Mark Lazarus, Brooklyn Nets/Barclays Center CEO Brett Yormark, NFL senior vice president and Queens native Frank Supovitz, Sports Illustrated president Mark Ford and Gillette’s head of sports marketing, Greg Via. “The Miz” entered the conference room as if it were just another WWE arena for him as he stayed in villainous braggadocio form. “This conference isn’t adjourned until I say it is!” he boomed into a microphone. Mizanin then easily shifted out of character as he talked about the financial commitment the WWE is making to the Susan G. Komen Foundation whose mission is to fund research that will eradicate breast cancer.

       The Brooklyn Nets held their 2013 media day last Monday and a huge throng of press came out primarily to hear what former Celtics Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce. Garnett showed a quick wit by reminding everyone that the “only reason (he put six o’s in front the world “only”) that he came to Brooklyn was to win a championship.” He also said that he had not spoken to Knicks forward Carmelo Anthony since their run-in last spring when he enraged him by saying that his wife, La La, smelled like Honey Nut Cheerios. I still have no clue what that means.

      Paul Pierce, who played his entire fifteen year career in Boston, thanked the Nets organization for helping with nearly every aspect of relocation such as finding a home, schools for his kids, as well as medical professionals for his family.

      Nets center Brook Lopez, the longest tenured member of the team, admitted that he couldn’t remember the last time that his team beat the Miami Heat. (They’ve lost 17 straight games to LeBron James, Dwyane Wade & Company) but agrees that the Nets need to beat them at least once during the regular season before anyone can truly start thinking of them as a potential NBA champions. Brook said that he was thrilled that old Nets head coach, Lawrence Frank, is back as an assistant to current head coach Jason Kidd.

     Strangely enough Jason Kidd did not choose to speak with the press on Nets media day. My biggest concern when he was named Nets head coach was that he wouldn’t be comfortable schmoozing with the press which is a key part of the job. They have not been allayed.

     Sports Illustrated showed a nice sense of humor by having its perennial swimsuit issue cover girl Kate Upton pose with Atlanta Braves siblings BJ and Justin Upton for the cover of last week’s baseball playoff preview issue. Kate was described as their “long lost cousin” on the cover.

     WFAN’s Mike Francesa got priceless publicity this week through a YouTube parody created by Bill Buchanan who goes by the clever pseudonym Mike Zaun (I am surprised he did not choose Mike Dupp however.) Buchanan got in British redcoat regalia and did a spot-on impersonation of what Mike Francesa would have been like had he been doing radio in 1776 and the American Revolution were a sporting contest. “The rebels have no chance to win but if they want to have a chance they had better trust Benedict Arnold,” imagined a colonial Francesa who dismissed callers who supported George Washington’s guys.

      When a current day caller asked Mike about the parody on Friday, he stayed in character and denied any knowledge of it claiming that he has never watched YouTube. My guess is that Francesa was merely remaining in character which he never deviates from on the air. When I have run into him outside of the WFAN studio he is far more approachable than his egomaniacal on-air persona. I have a feeling that privately Mike was laughing loudly at Buchanan’s video.

      If you are looking for a good long weekend fall destination, Cooperstown, New York, home the National Baseball Hall of Fame, is a good choice. The rates at the historic Otesaga Hotel and its sister property, The Cooper Inn, are a fraction of what they are in the peak summer months. It’s a fine place to watch the fall foliage as well as enjoy some tasty apple cider from the many farms of central New York State.

      The semi-annual Spa Week will be running from October 14-20 and many of the best spas in our area offer a variety of services such as massages for $50. For a listing of participants, log onto www.spaweek.com

      Speaking of massages, give Greenwich Village’s Jade Hotel credit for attracting out-of-town participants for the November 3 ING New York City Marathon with packages that include pre-race pasta binges for dinner and post-race massages that should be welcomed by anyone who has just run over 26 miles.