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

Lazzari’s Sports Roundup – 06/05/10

ITEM: Kansas defensive tackle Jamal Greene is dismissed from the team after he and former teammate Vernon Brooks are arrested in connection with an attempted aggravated robbery (Brooks had ALREADY been dismissed from the team before spring practices for violating various team rules). My first thought? This will simply give these ‘outstanding’ young men more time to work on term papers, visit the school library, take additional/challenging classes, and help old ladies across the street………TRIVIA QUESTION: The 1979 Chicago White Sox were led in wins by a pitcher whose victory total that season was more than one-third of his CAREER total. Can you name this individual? Answer to follow……….Just thinking: If Ken Griffey Jr. of the Mariners had aged HALF as well as actresses Jennifer Aniston and Sharon Stone, then Seattle would be leading the AL West by 5 games at this juncture……….I’d love to see LPGA golfer Angela Stanford hook up with New Mexico State infielder Joel Cardinal; if they ever tied the knot, fans of a Palo Alto, CA school would surely delight in her full married name of Angela Stanford Cardinal……….This week in sports history, June 8, 1968: L.A. Dodgers pitcher Don Drysdale’s 58-inning scoreless streak comes to an end as a fifth-inning sacrifice fly by Philadelphia’s Howie Bedell scores Tony Taylor in a game played at Dodger Stadium. Just two innings earlier, Drysdale had passed Walter Johnson’s previous mark of 55 2/3 scoreless innings–drawing a standing ovation from more than 50,000 fans in attendance. Philadelphia ended up scoring three runs off Drysdale during the game, but he ultimately improved his record to 8-3 during a 5-3 Dodgers victory………. Regarding the disaster better-known as Oliver Perez: Don’t you think this guy should at LEAST donate a few million bucks worth of Sominex to the Mets–who can then distribute the sleep-aid to fans who’ve endured so many restless nights since his ridiculous signing?……….Did you know that the 1979 Los Angeles Dodgers had FIVE players with 20 or more home runs apiece–but finished with a sub-.500 record? Joe Ferguson, Dusty Baker, Ron Cey, Davey Lopes, and Steve Garvey all homered at least 20 times, but the team finished 79-83 under manager Tom Lasorda–11 1/2 games behind the NL West-leading Cincinnati Reds………. Answer to trivia question: KEN KRAVEC–who went 15-13 in 1979 while winning just 43 games over his entire eight-year career……….Just wondering: Do you think a muscled-up “A-ROID” thought of his past steroid use after hitting that scorching line drive off the head of Indians pitcher David Huff last weekend? Wait a second–a member of the MLB player’s union with a true CONSCIENCE??? Nahhhhhh…………Happy birthday wishes go out to former NBA center Bryant “Big Country” Reeves–who blows out 37 candles on June 8th. While at Oklahoma State, Reeves averaged more than 17 points and 8 rebounds per game over his four-year college career and led his team to the Final Four in 1995. Reeves became the first-ever draft pick of the Vancouver Grizzlies and spent six seasons with them from 1995-2001–averaging 12.5 points and 6.9 rebounds over the course of his NBA career. One of the highlights of Reeves’ career was setting a Grizzlies club record in March of 2000 when he converted 11 straight field goal attempts against the Seattle SuperSonics. Sadly, weight and injury problems took their toll on Reeves in the late 90′s–causing him to retire at a very young age. Best wishes, “Big Country”……….Finally, condolences go out to former Oklahoma coach Ray Thurmond–who passed away recently at the age of 89. Thurmond was named as OU’s golf coach and freshman basketball coach back in 1967; while working under Sooners head basketball coach John McLeod, Thurmond helped develop such star players as Clifford Ray and Garfield Heard. A World War II veteran, Thurmond attended North Texas State and went on to coach FIVE different sports at the high school level (in Texas, Georgia, and California) before joining OU’s physical education staff in 1960. Any person familiar with “Sooner Country” will attest to the fact that Ray Thurmond undoubtedly was one of the most popular figures in Oklahoma sports history; he’ll surely be missed. Rest in peace, “Coach.”

Posted under Bob Lazzari, Chicago White Sox, Dodger Stadium, Don Drysdale, Jennifer Aniston, Ken Griffey Jr, Lazzari, New Mexico State, New York Mets, Oliver Perez, Palo Alto Ca, S Sports, Sacrifice Fly, Scoreless Streak, Sominex, Sports History, Spring Practices, Standing Ovation, Teammate Vernon, Tony Taylor, Top Story, Trivia Question, Walter Johnson

This post was written by Bob Lazzari on June 5, 2010