Sports Beat: “Mets pay Bay to go away”

Just as the fall general manager meetings got under way in the Palm Springs area, the Mets announced that they were going to buy the remaining year on outfielder Jason Bay’s contract. It’s estimated that the overall cost to the team is in the range of $21 million.

It’s debatable which expensive free agent signing was more disastrous for the Mets: the three year, $36 million contract given to pitcher Oliver Perez or the four-year, $66 million pact with Bay.

It should be pointed out that while there was some concern over Oliver Perez’s work ethic, Jason Bay literally, to borrow a phrase that Mitt Romney used in his concession speech, left it all on the field as he suffered concussions by running into walls and fences chasing after long fly balls as well as getting nailed by a fastball into his batting helmet.

In a sport where too many players find creative ways to hide from the media before and after games, the gentlemanly Jason was always available to the press and was honest about his failings to a fault.

What I don’t understand is why the Mets, who loathe to spend money even after their finances are allegedly no longer an issue, were in such a hurry to cut a severance deal at this time. It’s not as if they needed his slot on the forty-man roster to sign a big free agent such as Josh Hamilton. Given his intensity to succeed, combined with the fact that he is very respected by his teammates, what would have been the harm of having him report to spring training and letting him compete for a spot on the team? The Mets would have everything to gain, and nothing that I can see, to lose.

Mets fans are not the only ones who are upset with the team’s rudderless direction. Modell’s CEO Mitch Modell was one of the many movers and shakers who attended last week’s Sports Business Journal’s annual Sports & Media Technology conference at the Marriott Marquis. I asked Mitch if the Mets’ penny-pinching ways would affect the amount of team paraphernalia that his stores would be ordering for 2013. “Absolutely! People want to by merchandise associated with winning teams and athletes. There has been a decline in the sales of Mets apparel over the last few years,” Modell said.

Stephanie McMahon, the vice president of creative development of World Wrestling Entertainment, was interviewed by Sports Business Journal editor Abe Madkour at the SBJ SMT conference. Abe asked her the secret for the WWE’s incredible popularity. “We provide great action, and yes, the outcomes are scripted. You can quote me on that!” Stephanie replied as the audience loudly chuckled. It’s hard to believe that for generations wrestling promoters steadfastly refused to admit that “it was fixed” the way magicians fanatically guard their secrets.

“I’m incredibly proud of her. She was trying to become the first female senator from Connecticut,” Stephanie said when Abe Madkour asked her reaction to her mom’s (Linda McMahon) defeat to Chris Murphy for Joe Lieberman’s seat.

She added that the WWE is trying to launch a subscription cable television network similar to those of HBO and Showtime. “We’ll offer viewers premium events that are normally shown on the traditional per-per-view as well as vintage wrestling clips from our deep library.”

Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban was in town Friday night as the Knicks hosted his team. Cuban is the CEO of AXS TV (pronounced “Access”) which was the former HD Net, the very first 24-hour high definition cable network, until it was re-branded this past July. Cuban is understandably frustrated that Time Warner Cable has not seen fit to add AXS to its channel lineup since it offers such diverse programming as “Dan Rather Reports,” mixed martial arts matches, repeat episodes of one-time broadcast network staples as “JAG” and “Cheers,” as well as live concert broadcasts. It took the NFL Network ten years until Time Warner Cable broke down and allowed them to showcase their wares. Don’t give up hope, Mark.

I am not sure if this will cheer you up if you’ve had to wait in long gas lines, but the Knicks players share your pain. “I had to wait at a gas station for well over an hour in Westchester,” said rookie Knicks forward Chris Copeland. Center Tyson Chandler added that most of the Knicks are carpooling.

It was not a happy homecoming last Sunday for onetime Forest Hills High School and St. John’s University star Mo Harkless  was held scoreless and played shoddy defense in ten minutes of court time as his current team, the Orlando Magic, fell to the Brooklyn  Nets, 82-74.

It has been documented that nearly $2 billion was spent on the recently concluded presidential campaign. “Presidential candidates should be like NASCAR drivers and be made to wear their sponsors’ corporate logos on their suits,” cracked Libertarian presidential candidate Gary Johnson who netted about 1% of the popular vote with a bare bones campaign.

A number of former and current athletes made appearances at the annual Starlight Foundation fund-raiser at Madison Square Garden last Monday night. The Starlight Foundation raises funds to entertain chronically ill children as well as helping their families cope with the related stresses.

It has not been the most pleasant of autumns of for onetime Rangers legendary enforcer Nick Fotiu. Like most hockey fans and former players, he has been frustrated by the National Hockey League lockout. What’s truly upsetting Fotiu, a Staten Island native, is the destruction caused by Hurricane Sandy that has badly hurt the lives of lifelong friends. “I hope that they rebuild the South Beach boardwalk and the businesses along Hylan Boulevard as soon as possible,” said Fotiu at the Starlight event.

Jets defensive end Muhammad Wilkerson agreed that the Jets were lucky to have a bye week right after Hurricane Sandy hit since many of his teammates were dealing with flooding and electric power issues in their homes. Unfortunately for Wilkerson and the Jets, the time off did not reverse their sagging playoff fortunes as they appeared sleepy in Seattle, losing to the Seahawks last Sunday by a score of 28-7.

Following yet another dreary game from Gang Green, fearless Jets Confidential publisher Dan Leberfeld, asked Jets head coach Rex Ryan in a booming voice at his press conference broadcast on SNY, “Why is there this fatal attraction with Mark Sanchez?” Rex sheepishly replied for the millionth time, “I believe that he gives our team the best chance of victory.” The Jets head coach however could offer no substantial proof why this was so to Dan.

Carli Lloyd and Heather O’Reilly, two of the stars on the Olympic gold medal-winning women’s soccer team, lent their support to the Starlight Foundation as well. Both players were hopeful that a successful American women’s soccer league can be formed but do not want to repeat the mistakes made by the first women’s league, the financially-strapped  WUSA, that was hastily formed after the US National Team won the 1999 Women’s World Cup.

A lot has been written about the cancellation of the NYC Marathon, and the controversy caused by Mayor Bloomberg’s reluctance to do so in a timely manner. What has been understandably overlooked is that the NYC Marathon has long been a key time for running shoe manufacturers to showcase their newest models.

New Balance, which makes all of their shoes in the USA, debuted the 860v3. The company boasts that the 860v3 contains an upper made of material known as NuFoam that is biodegradable.

What is terrific about the running shoe business is that it gives the little guys a chance to compete with the big boys, something that is a lot harder in the world of basketball shoes. Fox Head’s accurately named Feather Lite is a running shoe that feels like a house slipper. Spira Footwear’s Stinger II is the latest model from the company that put metal springs in the heels of its shoes much to the consternation of marathon body-sanctioning bodies who ban runners from wearing Spira. Think of them as sneakers on steroids. Brooks Running’s humorously named “Beast” shoe has an equally humorously-named cushion, the “Caterpillar Crash Pad,” that purports to reduce stress when feet hit the pavement.

The New York Chocolate Show held last weekend at the Metropolitan Pavilion is understandably one of New York City’s most popular consumer shows. When most think of chocolate, iconic brands as Hershey’s and Nestle’s come to mind. Serious chocolate aficionados will scoff however at their mass produced products.

Contrary to popular belief, most chocolate is not sweet. The higher the pure cocoa content, the more bitter the taste. Another myth is that chocolate does not have any medicinal benefits.  Gnosis  Chocolates, whose headquarters are located in Long Island City, as well as  Gainesville-based Reserveage, make chocolate bars with high cocoa concentrations that are chock full of heart-healthy anti-oxidants and provide energy. You can purchase them at Whole Foods and online of course.

Avon is arguably the most famous brand name in the world of fragrances and skin care products. The term “Avon Lady” referred both to the company’s sales force and its main consumer. These days Avon is targeting men as much as does women. Two of Avon’s cologne lines, Driven and Unplugged, feature Yankees shortstop Derek Jeter and rock star Jon Bon Jovi as spokesman. The company is now expanding into watches as it has licenses from both the NFL and the NBA. Avon is hoping that its line of Knicks, Nets, Giants and Jets watches that have alist price of around $40 will be popular with consumers looking for holiday stocking stuffers.

Major League Soccer has a weird playoff system. When the New York Red Bulls played DC United, it was not a normal best two of three matches. It was a two game playoff with the winner decided by which team scored the most goals over the two games. The fist game resulted in a 1-1 tie while the second, played at Red Bull Stadium last Thursday, saw DC win by that all too typical 1-0 soccer score. As usual, the Red Bulls are a day late and a dollar short.

My colleague Rich Mancuso will be part of the talent taking part in the 12-hour Hurricane Sandy relief radiothon this Saturday, November 17, on one of our area’s most popular Internet radio stations, www.inthemixxradio.com

Posted under Batting Helmet, Fastball, Fly Balls, Jason Bay, Lloyd Carroll, Man Roster, Marriott Marquis, Media Technology, Mets Fans, Mitt Romney, Movers And Shakers, New York Mets, Oliver Perez, Outfielder, Palm Springs Area, Running Into Walls, S Sports, Sports Business Journal, Top Story, Work Ethic

Tejada Provides A Much Needed Mets Spark

Ruben Tejada the 20-year old rookie infielder of the New York Mets has been patient realizing his playing time has also been a valuable experience. Back in April he was on the 25 man roster and struggled at the plate.

Patience is a virtue as they say. And for Tejada recalled from Triple-A Buffalo on August 7th, the learning process of being on a big league roster have probably earned him the starting second base job at Citi Field next season.

The roster move back in August came when the Mets released veteran infielder and clubhouse leader Alex Cora. “He helped me a lot, spoke to me about what to expect and how to play the big field,” Tejada said recently about his experience of playing in New York and taking Cora in as a mentor.

Tuesday night at Citi Field in the bottom of the ninth inning, with the Mets trailing the Milwaukee Brewers by two runs, in a game that meant nothing but playing for pride, Tejada got his chance. He hit an inside fastball off   Brewers hard throwing left handed closer John Axford.

The ball went into the left center field gap and Luis Castillo came home with the Mets seventh walk-off win of the season 4-3. Tejada was mobbed at home plate by his teammates after going 3-for-4 The second of his two doubles became the big hit with his two runs batted in.

Mets manager Jerry Manuel has always been an advocate of using Tejada as the every day second baseman which regulated the big contract of Castillo to the bench And when infielder Luis Hernandez broke his foot and ended his season on the prior home stand, the second base job and batting eighth in the lineup was permanent for Tejada.

“It was a matter of him getting some hits to fall for him,” said Manuel about the game wining hit that gave the Mets their first win of the season when trailing after eight innings. “Some things fell in for him tonight, that’s a great confidence boost for him.  He’s trying to establish to himself where he belongs on this level and he did a good job tonight,”

Tejada, who makes his off season home in Veraguas Panama has made it known that the adjustment to the big city has been a patient process, Just like being patient at the plate where he has been struggling to keep his average over .200.

“I feel great and hit the ball hard to the left fielder and won the game,’ he said after what hopefully will be many more of his walk off wins for the Mets. On the situation, he said, “I think I’m looking for my count and hit the ball to center field to tie the game.”

It was more than a game tying hit. It became the game winning hit that gave the Mets a good start to their final seven games of the season at home. “I want to finish up strong, we want to finish strong,” he said.

The three hits tied a career high that were achieved against the Pirates on September 14th. Back on September 5th, Tejada also became the second Met this season that had a five RBI game. “I saw the ball good that day,” he said and the wind was also blowing out that day at Wrigley Field.

“It’s been a great experience for me I’m learning a lot, it’s good,” commented Tejada. He will pack his bags after the final game Sunday and return home to be with his mother and members of his family, and then possibly play winter ball in Venezuela.

Something the Mets hope for is the continued development of their youngsters.  The future at Citi Field revolves around players like Tejada, and draft picks such as Ike Davis, Lucas Duda and pitcher Dillon Gee.

And as Tejada says, “I hope to be a part of that future.” A game wining hit and continued patience certainly have almost assured a welcome mat for Tejada at Citi Field next April as their starting second baseman.

e-mail Rich Mancuso: Ring786@aol.com

Posted under Alex Cora, August 7, Clubhouse, Fastball, Gap, Luis Castillo, Luis Hernandez, Man Roster, Mentor, Milwaukee Brewers, New York Mets, Ninth Inning, Patience Is A Virtue, Playing Time, Roster Move, Ruben, Second Baseman, Teammates, Top Story, Tuesday Night, Veteran Infielder

This post was written by Rich Mancuso on September 29, 2010