2007-10-10 / Sports

WFAN Mets Relief Pitcher Tryouts in L.I.C.

BY LIZ GOFF

(L. to r.): John Franco, Craig Carton, Boomer Esiason. Photos WFAN (L. to r.): John Franco, Craig Carton, Boomer Esiason. Photos WFAN WFAN radio talk hosts Boomer Esiason and Craig Carton of the "Boomer and Carton Show" turned to desperate measures last week to try to stop the hapless Mets from suffering the greatest late-season collapse in the history of baseball.

Carton appealed to divine powers to fire up Mets batters and put the punch back in their pitchers when they invited a "shaman" onto their morning show to say a prayer for the Queens Boys of Summer, but the shaman's prayers came up empty. They then dragged out a voodoo doll when Tom Glavine pitched. We all know that didn't work. They appealed to a couple of rabbis for help. They asked somebody's Italian grandmother to put the maloch (evil eye) on the other teams. And finally they prayed to St. Jude. But even the Patron Saint of Lost Causes could not help the Mets out of the hole they dug for themselves.

On September 27, Boomer and Carton took matters into their own hands when they invited wannabe baseball superstars to come to the corner of 36th Street and 35th Avenue at 7 a.m. on September 28, to show their stuff at impromptu tryouts for a new Mets relief pitcher.

No one promised the contestants that Omar Minaya would be there with a contract in hand, but they did get to meet former Mets closer John Franco and shake hands with the radio jocks.

Carton handed out a total of five prizes, including a grand prize of two tickets to the Mets 2008 Opening Day game at Shea Stadium, a Mets hands-free 12-inch LCD TV, team jerseys and a David Wright "Fat Head" doll.

By 6:30 a.m. 71 people were waiting on 35th Avenue to pitch their way into baseball history, and the folks at WFAN came prepared with a portable pitcher's mound, a batting cage and a speed gun to measure the heat of the pitches.

Boomer and Carton took their morning show to the street competition, announcing contestants while giving listeners a play-byplay. Each contestant had a chance to throw three pitches from the "hill" on 35th Avenue. Pitchers who threw the top 10 speeds made it to a second round where five winners were chosen. Contestants were judged on speed, style and accuracy.

The grand prize went to Guissepe Granitto, 22, of The Bronx, who fired off an 83 mph fastball to claim the opening day seats.

A WFAN spokesperson applauded the contestants for the guts, grit and talent displayed on the makeshift mound. "Some really promising arms turned up here today," the spokesperson said."Who knows? We could be looking at some future superstars."

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