FLUSHING, N.Y. — Flushing native and lifelong New York Mets fan Sal Chincano on Thursday allowed an incoming phone call from his beloved baseball team to go straight to voicemail, citing a laundry list of errands and a deep aversion to ever accepting a position within the organization as the reasons he did not answer or plan to return the call.
“I know why they’re calling and I even know who’s calling,” Chincano said while en route to pick up his son at soccer practice. “It’s (Mets general manager Sandy) Alderson again, and I bet he wants to know what I’m doing tomorrow night around 7:10 pm. I’ll tell ya what I’m not doing: suiting up for the Mets.”
The 34-year-old Chincano once starred as a third baseman at Long Island’s Nassau Community College before abandoning the sport entirely at the age of 20, when he enrolled at nearby Stony Brook University to complete his bachelor’s degree in Geosciences. Upon hearing of Chincano’s pedestrian exploits on the baseball diamond, Alderson, whose team has not scored a run in 23 innings, immediately invited Chincano to the team’s spring training camp in late February. That invitation was quickly rebuffed, despite the sanitation worker’s admission that it was once his dream to play for his hometown Mets.
“Yeah, I wanted to play for them once, but I barely made the jayvee team in high school and I only made the team at NCC because I didn’t have to tryout,” admits Chincano. “And I’ve got kids now. I can’t imagine looking them in the eye and telling them, ‘Daddy’s gonna go play for the Mets.’ That would devastate them, and it wouldn’t exactly add an extra hop in my step, either.”
Though Chincano insists his rejection of the Mets’ offer to come to spring training and compete for the starting shortstop position or even try his hand at relief pitching was adamant, Alderson’s quest to bring the overweight father of two to Flushing continues, much to the chagrin of Chincano and his family. Known for his tireless dedication to building a competitive team, Alderson has been relentless in his efforts to add Chincano to the Mets, who began the 2014 season by striking out in 31 of their first 64 at-bats, even going so far as to offer the team’s struggling shortstop, Ruben Tejada, to Chincano’s wife, Marie, in exchange for her husband of 11 years.
But such efforts continue to prove fruitless, as Chincano insists he has no desire to play for a team that appears well on its way to a sixth straight losing season and twenty-eighth consecutive campaign without a World Series trophy.
“Kids might not have to look at the world this way, but us moms and dads have to weigh the risk versus the reward when making important decisions,” says Chincano, whose annual salary with the City of New York Department of Sanitation is roughly one-tenth of the minimum salary for Major League Baseball players. “And the risk here is I lose my spot on the garbage truck, while the reward is maybe winning two ballgames a week and getting stuck on the (Long Island Expressway) for three hours after every game. I’ll take the truck over the traffic and those empty wins any day.”
Even an eleventh hour sales pitch from the team’s seven-time All-Star and beloved franchise cornerstone David Wright ultimately fell on deaf ears.
“I offered him my job, even begged him to take it to be honest,” lamented Wright, whose brief and only taste of postseason baseball came nearly a decade ago. “But some guys just have their priorities straight. Lucky bastard.”