Neil A. Carousso produces and co-hosts WCBS Newsradio 880’s Small Business Spotlight series with Joe Connolly. Click here to watch the weekly video segments featuring advice for business owners on survival, recovery and growth opportunities.
  
Neil A. Carousso is the producer of The 880 Weekly Rewind with Lynda Lopez, airing Friday nights at 7 PM on WCBS Newsradio 880. Each week Lynda talks with newsmakers for a deep dive into the top stories of the week and the impact it has on people.

    Sports

  • ‘I Couldn’t Be Happier Right Now’: Mets Catcher James McCann Looks Forward to First Season with Team

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    NEW YORK (WCBS 880) — James McCann, the newest catcher for the New York Mets, has spent a month with the team so far and says he is looking forward to the regular season.

    McCann, who signed a four-year contract with the team in December 2020, spoke with Ed Coleman on Tuesday for our Mets 2021 Season Preview Special, saying he’s had an amazing time with the team so far.

    “It’s been a really good first month,” he said. “The organization, the people within the organization – I couldn’t be happier right now, it’s been a lot of fun.”

    Prior to starting spring training, Coleman noted that McCann wanted to befriend Jacob deGrom and “be in his back pocket.” McCann says now that they’ve worked together, their relationship has grown.

    “Jake’s a phenomenal guy,” McCann said. “He’s always joking around, he’s always having a good time. But, he gets his work in and he works hard.”

    Despite the fact that it’s only his first year as a Met, the catcher thinks that he has a lot of experience that he can bring to the team.

    He particularly notes that, as a veteran player – he has been playing professionally since 2011 – he hopes to inspire younger players to overcome their weaknesses and push on for a good season.

    “I’m a big believe that things happen for a reason. And one of the things that’s happened in my career is I’ve had the ups and the downs. I’ve had good years and I’ve have bad years. And I really think that part of that journey and part of my job, as a guy that’d been around, is to share my experiences and share what I know. You know, be a veteran guy that can help those young players to realize that everyone’s going to go through a slump, everyone’s going to struggle at times. But what helps you come out of those bad times is what makes you a good player,” he tells Coleman.

    He also has been learning a lot from his own idols, such as former Met Mike Piazza, who spoke highly of McCann in an interview on Monday.

    “I definitely knew who Mike was. I definitely loved his game as a kid. I can remember being in the front yard, pretending to swing like Mike Piazza and now, here I am, talking baseball with him… trying to pick his brain and see what he thought about this and different things like that but, he’s been really, really good to me,” McCann said. “I fully expect to be in contact with him and bounce different things off of him throughout my time here.”

    McCann says he is looking forward to the 2021 season and says he plans to trust his instincts, noting that he has been playing for several years and plans to stay true to himself.

    “I think, for me personally, my approach never really changes. I’m going to be the same guy, no matter where I’m hitting in the line, no matter who I’m facing, whether there’s runners on base or runners in scoring position, or nobody on base – that’s part of my revelations as a hitter: Staying within myself and not trying to do too much,” McCann said.

    Neil A. Carousso produces special coverage of New York Mets baseball for the WCBS Mets Radio Network.

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  • ‘Last Year Was Last Year’: Mets Slugger Pete Alonso Fully Locked in for 2021

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    NEW YORK (WCBS 880) — New York Mets first baseman Pete Alonso is fully locked in as the team wraps up camp in Florida and gets ready for the season opener on April 1 against Washington.

    The Polar Bear, who joined Wayne Randazzo and Ed Coleman on Tuesday for our Mets 2021 Season Preview Special to share his personal and team goals, said he can’t wait to hear the roar of the crowd in Flushing once again following an unprecedented shortened season without fans.

    “I think this year, 2021, is all about resiliency,” Alonso said. “To be back at Citi Field with a full capacity crowd and hearing the stadium shake when people go nuts, I haven’t found a better feeling. It’s an adrenaline rush and I miss that feeling, I miss the fans being there cheering us on because when we have a packed house it’s unbelievable what type of hostile environment they can create for the other team. Walking in there when you’ve got 45,000 rabid Mets fans doing the ‘Lets Go Mets’ chant, I miss it.”

    After setting the rookie record with 53 dingers two years ago, the slugger suffered a bit of a setback in the 2020 season, but was still on pace for what would have been a 40 homer season in a full year.

    “Last year was last year,” he said as he looks toward the future.

    He’s had a pretty strong spring so far and has set high goals for himself for the full 162-game season.

    “I’d like to drive in 130 runs and I’d like to win a gold glove,” Alonso said. “That can only be done by staying locked in and being meticulous every single day. Those numbers will be what they are at the end of the year, but if I reach those numbers it’s because I stick to my plan, I stayed locked in and I was able to perform and capitalize on opportunities. I just want to be as consistent as I possibly can.”

    For now, he’s focused on finishing up camp.

    “The more game reps, the more ready I’ll be,” he said. “I feel like I’m in a very good place offensively and defensively, as well, I feel really good about where my body is, getting it up to full game speed. It’s been a really productive and good spring for me, but I want to be able to carry that over into the regular season when the lights turn on.”

    There’s a lot riding on a Met defense in the infield this year, but Alonso said there’s a good chemistry between himself, Jeff McNeil, J.D. Davis and Francisco Lindor.

    “We’ve worked really well so far this spring and I feel like that we want to give the pitcher’s confidence out there that we’re going to go out there and make plays every single day,” Alonso said. “Defense is a staple in the game of baseball and we want to provide that and just peace of mind for pictures and. We want to go out there and perform that’s the biggest thing I think that.  Because we have a good chemistry, we’re gelling extremely well right now in camp I think that’s going to translate incredibly during the season.”

    Neil A. Carousso produces special coverage of New York Mets baseball for the WCBS Mets Radio Network.

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  • Mets 2021 Preview Special: J.D. Davis Optimistic About Upcoming MLB Season

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    NEW YORK (WCBS 880) — With Mets Opening Day just two weeks away, J.D. Davis seems to already be settling into his role at third base and is hoping to win over fans.

    Speaking with Ed Coleman for WCBS 880’s 2021 Mets Preview Special on Tuesday, Davis said spring training in Port St. Lucie has been a learning experience and he is feeling confident.

    He says that the team is looking towards a championship this year, and they aren’t holding back in spring training, and they won’t be holding back in the regular season.

    Davis brought up an example from a play that went down in their game Tuesday afternoon, in which he decided to “roll the dice” in a move to take third base, saying he realized the other team would “have to make a perfect throw and a perfect catch on the run to even tag me.”

    “That’s what me and Luis Rojas and (Francisco) Lindor have been really talking about is being a super aggressive on the base pad, just to kind of push the envelope and know our limits,” Davis said. “Even if we get tagged out or run into an out, it does not matter. It’s willingness to make it out on the bases in spring training just to push the envelope.”

    After a breakout 2019 season, hopes were high for Davis in 2020. Unfortunately, things never really clicked and throughout the offseason, Davis’ spot on the team was not always guaranteed.

    However, the third baseman says he feels he has improved greatly and has been working with Mets coaches to fix some issues.

    “Working with the strength training and kind of the analytics, I play pretty good,” he told Coleman, saying he has improved his “staggered stance.” “You know, some people like to say, ‘you’re playing too high,’ but I’m able to kind of get into that good first step, in position and I’m able to move my feet and able to get to balls.”

    He says he has a lot of hope for the 2021 season and blamed the shortened season last year for the Mets failings.

    “We had a top five offense last year, average and all that. We got on base, we just never really got to score any runs, when you compare 2019 to 2020,” Davis said. “I think that just has to do with more of the 60 games than if you go to 162 games.”

    The third baseman notes that if the season had been longer, the Mets would have gone further but, he says the team has the ability to get to where they need to be this year.

    “You know, probably the second half, a lot of us get hot and we start having clutch hits just like we did. But I have all the confidence in this lineup right now,” said Davis.

    Neil A. Carousso produces special coverage of New York Mets baseball for the WCBS Mets Radio Network.

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  • Mets 2021 Preview Special: Rojas Talks ‘Coach Lindor,’ Pitching Rotation and More

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    NEW YORK (WCBS 880) — Opening Day is just two weeks away and the New York Mets look like it’s all systems go for a special 2021 season as the team looks to build on an optimistic offseason.

    Manager Luis Rojas, who joined Mets radio broadcasters Wayne Randazzo and Ed Coleman for our 2021 Mets Preview Special on Tuesday, said it’s been an exciting spring in Port St. Lucie.

    “Early, starting with our young prospects, that was exciting to watch them play,” Rojas said. “Now the guys that we acquired in the offseason, they’ve also been very exciting to watch on a daily basis in the clubhouse and the way they carry themselves and some of the things that they bring to the team not only on the field… I think everyone is working hard, getting to know these guys and seeing how they go about their business.”

    Among the highlights of the offseason was the arrival of All-Star Francisco Lindor, who brings an energy and winning mentality to the team.

    Rojas said they jokingly refer to him as “Coach Lindor” because he demands the best version of himself and his teammates every single day.

    “He’s just perfect, that’s the best way to describe it,” Rojas said. “We all want to win and this kid is coming with a lot of winning experience, great abilities, and I know his personality. We spoke on the phone for the first time after acquiring him and immediately I felt that energy and that winning mentality and that’s exactly what he’s brought from day one.”

    Another player getting plenty of attention is pitcher Carlos Carrasco, a late arrival to camp.

    Carrasco has said he’ll be ready for Opening Day and threw for the first time Tuesday after elbow soreness left him sidelined for a few days.

    Rojas said Carrasco threw 18 pitches and felt great, so they’ll continue to watch his buildup and progression.

    “He feels he’s going to be there when the season starts and we feel that he’s going to be there when the season starts,” Rojas said. “So we’ll just follow through his progression. Next step is to throw a live in a couple of days and then we’ll see if we can include him in games.”

    If Carrasco is ready to go for the first week of the season, that leaves many wondering what the final pitching rotation may look like.

    Assuming Marcus Stroman, Taijuan Walker, Jacob deGrom and Carrasco make the list that begs the question: who’s in the lead for fifth spot?

    “That’s a tough one,” Rojas said. “We know that (David) Peterson’s earned a right to be there. He pitched the other day, he let some pitches out over the middle of plate, but the stuff is there, he’s trying mid-90s, he’s got the slider, and now the changeup touch has gotten a lot better and he’s flipping the curveball every now and then as well. So he’s expanding his repertoire a little more and probably going to increase the percentages of some pitches just to have some more in the opposing hitter’s head. But you gotta say that he’s the top guy for that fifth spot but the race is tight cause you have a guy like (Jordan) Yamamoto, who’s been pitching consistently too, and you also have a guy like (Joey) Lucchesi who threw the other day and he cruised through two innings. So we’re looking at it to develop more in the next week and then we’ll be closer for that decision.”

    Neil A. Carousso produces special coverage of New York Mets baseball for the WCBS Mets Radio Network.

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  • ‘I’m a little bit biased:’ Tiki Barber playing favorites for Super Bowl LV

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    By Neil A. Carousso and Joe Connolly

    NEW YORK (WCBS 880) — Tiki Barber, who played ten seasons for the New York Football Giants, is playing favorites ahead of the big game.

    The three-time Pro Bowl running back opened up to WCBS 880’s Joe Connolly and Neil A. Carousso after recording a Small Business Spotlight interview about his events company Thuzio, which is set to publish on Wednesday.

    “I’m a little bit biased,” Barber admitted, revealing, “Bruce Arians, who is the head coach of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, was roommates with my father at Virginia Tech and so I’ve known him since I was born, basically.”

    The “Tiki and Tierney” co-host on CBS Sports Radio and CBS Sports Network said he grew up with Arians who started as a quarterback for the Hokies and won two Super Bowls as the wide receivers coach and offensive coordinator for the Pittsburgh Steelers in 2005 and 2008.

    “The thing that I look for, that I’m looking for, is how these two teams are coached and how are they prepared to take on these extraordinarily amazing challenges in competition.”

    Kansas City Chiefs Head Coach Andy Reid coached against Barber’s Giants as the long-time leader of their NFC East rival Philadelphia Eagles. Reid won his first Super Bowl as a head coach last year when the Chiefs beat the San Francisco 49ers 31-20.

    “We have two amazing stories at the head coaching position whether it’s Bruce’s long journey or Andy Reid who is now in the top four, five of all time because of how successful he’s been,” Barber said. “I think that story besides all the great ones with the players that’s the one that I look to and it gives me the most interest mainly because I have a personal connection.”

    Barber has another connection to this year’s Super Bowl: His twin brother, Ronde, was the star cornerback for the 2002 Bucs championship team. That was Tampa Bay’s only Super Bowl appearance until this season.

    “That was the last time they won a playoff game was back in 2002 as crazy as that sounds,” said Barber.

    While the 2002 Buccaneers were known for their impermeable defense, the 2020 Bucs are riding on their high-flying offense orchestrated by their 43 year old quarterback, Tom Brady, who has won six Super Bowl titles in his nine appearances in the big game as a member of the New England Patriots.

    Brady’s first of three Super Bowl losses came at the hands of Eli Manning and the Giants – one-year after Barber retired, which he humorously brought up with Connolly and Carousso.

    “Tom Brady’s two years younger than me. I’m retired for 14 years; he’s still playing,” Barber said, laughing. “It’s unreal how successful he’s been.”

    In fact, this week, when Brady was asked if he’d be up for playing past age 45 he said, “I would definitely consider that.”

    Tiki told WCBS 880 he never thought any team was just “one player away,” noting the team sport. “That’s never true until this year.”

    Watch Joe Connolly and Neil A. Carousso’s conversation with Tiki Barber about Super Bowl LV above.

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