By Lloyd Carroll Photo: Arturo Pardavila III
It was a forgone conclusion that the Mets would trade first baseman Lucas Duda before Monday’s trade deadline. Mets general manager Sandy Alderson had concluded by the All-Star break that 2017 wasn’t going to be the team’s year and so he was going to try to deal veteran players, particularly free agents-to-be (which Duda was) to contending teams who would send back inexpensive minor league prospects.
Duda was the first Met vet to be let go as Alderson sent him to the Tampa Bay Rays for highly touted minor league relief pitcher Drew Smith. The Mets bullpen has been a FEMA disaster area so Alderson’s thinking was understandable. In a somewhat surprising move, Sandy also gave up a pair of young minor leaguers to the Miami Marlins for their closer, AJ Ramos.
Duda also knew that his days were numbered when the season began. He realized that the Mets had pretty much decided that their first-round pick in the 2013 amateur draft, first baseman Dominic Smith, would be the team’s starting first baseman in 2018 assuming that he didn’t disappoint playing for their Las Vegas 51s AAA farm club this year. Smith has kept his end of that bargain.
Having said all that, the meh reaction to Duda’s departure by both the media and Mets fans is somewhat bothersome considering he was a homegrown talent. He was chosen in the seventh round of the 2007 draft by the Mets and rose quickly through their minors before being called up to Flushing in September 2010. Duda was the longest tenured Mets player and belted 125 homers for them.
Duda was hampered by back issues which limited his offensive numbers. To his credit, he worked hard on his defense and saved many a run by pulling bad throws out of the dirt. Lucas was a quiet guy but always very approachable and friendly in the clubhouse. He wasn’t a good quote so few sportswriters sought him out.
DA Lloyd’s Corner
Longtime Bayside resident and veteran radio reporter Ashley Scharge was a guest last week on Sirius XM’s “NHL Today” where he discussed the future of Islanders superstar center John Tavares whose contract expires at the end of this coming season.
While the conventional wisdom is that Tavares will re-up with the Isles, Scharge takes a differing view. “He hates traveling to Brooklyn and playing on the bad ice at Barclays Center. He injured his quad on it towards the end of the season. He’s also concerned about the direction of the franchise,” Scharge said.
Ashley and show hosts Mick Kern and Michael Lippa concurred that the Islanders’ bizarre corporate culture has not changed one iota in the one year since Bayside High alum Jon Ledecky became the team’s managing partner. That’s troubling news for long-suffering Isles fans. As I wrote in my April 20th column it’s time to get moving, Ledecky!
The Brooklyn Nets were able to land sharpshooting guard Allen Crabbe from the Portland Trailblazers in a trade in which Brooklyn sent benchwarmer Andrew Nicholson to Portland. It certainly wasn’t an even trade in terms of talent. The Blazers, as is often the case in the NBA, was forced to make this deal in order to reduce payroll.
Nets general manager Sean Marks was finally able to land his man. In July 2016 he signed Crabbe, who was a restricted free agent, to a lucrative deal. The Trailblazers had the option to match the Nets’ offer and they did. My guess is that while they clearly liked Crabbe, they had buyer’s remorse re-signing him at his new price tag.
Boxer Adrien Broner admitted to me after his Thursday press conference promoting his Barclays Center Saturday night fight with Mikey Garcia that he wants to be an entertainer after he retires from the ring.
Broner is a terrific pugilist but tries he also hard to be a standup comic at his press events. Like most stand-ups today however he has trouble working clean.
During the Q&A session at the press conference I asked Showtime Sports president Stephen Espinoza if CBS (Showtime’s parent corporation) was considering televising the fight on the Tiffany Network since summer is a slow time for broadcast televison.
After Espinoza answered that they weren’t interested, Broner let out his inner Anthony Scaramucci by going off on an expletive-filled rant at CBS but laughing the whole way through. Espinoza kept his cool and responded with a chuckle, “That’s why we keep Adrien on premium cable television!”
Although they have been in existence since 2000 I finally made a visit to Bethpage Ballpark (it’s a bit of a misnomer since it is actually located in the Suffolk County township of Central Islip) to see the Long Island Ducks who play in the independent Atlantic League.
Former Mets shortstop Bud Harrelson owns a piece of the team and he is visible at most games. Another ex-Mets shortstop, Kevin Baez, is the team’s manager.
What makes Atlantic League games fun to watch to spotting former major leaguers as
Alfredo Simon and Lew Ford trying to make it back to “the show” as well as a lot of local players who were either undrafted or released from the farm systems of Major League Baseball teams seeking a second chance.
It’s worth the one hour ride from Queens on the Southern State Parkway a nice summer’s night to see a Ducks game where ticket prices are cheaper than buying a ticket to see a movie.
Discovery Network’s “Shark Week” always draws big ratings. According to Verizon Fios, “Shark Week” in 2016 was incredibly popular in Philadelphia but not so much here in Queens for some unknown reason. My guess is that Shark Week 2017 drew better ratings this year because of its main event, “Phelps vs. Shark.”
The intriguing premise was who would win in an Olympic-style lap race if the greatest swimmer of all-time, Michael Phelps, were to race a shark. It would have been too dangerous of course to really have Phelps and a shark compete side by side in a pool (I don’t think that sharks would appreciate chlorinated water anyway) so a computer-generated animated “Jaws” likeness had to suffice. Sharks move in the water over four times the speed of the fastest human so it was no contest. Phelps had to accept silver in this race.