Sportsbeat – 5/28/11

You have to say this for Mets owner Fred Wilpon; he’s a standup guy. When news leaked of Jeffrey Toobin’s New Yorker article on the Mets in which Wilpon got in digs at Carlos Beltran, Jose Reyes and David Wright, he did not wimp out and say that he was misquoted. “Frustrated Fred” was merely channeling his inner Steinbrenner.

While the Toobin piece generated the buzz, the more troublesome article on the Mets owner was penned by Tom Verducci in Sports Illustrated. The piece was fairly sympathetic to Wilpon but he made it clear that he expects his team to lose $70 million (don’t ask me if that is actually a true cash loss or it that figure includes such items as depreciation and other big asset amortizations and write-offs) and that he wants the Mets 2012 payroll to be around $100 million.

The SI article means that Jose Reyes, Carlos Beltran and Francisco “K-Rod” Rodriguez are certain to be dealt by the July 31 trade deadline. Mets GM Sandy Alderson tried to minimize the damage by saying that he has not ruled out making Reyes a long-term offer but you get the feeling that was just window dressing so that other teams wont’ make him a bottom-of-the-barrel trade offer.

A few years ago the knock on the Mets was that they were imitating the Yankees by trying to sign high-priced free agents. I have a feeling that the Mets will now be copying the way the Pirates and the Royals do business. I can barely wait for the Mets’ inevitable fire sale and Sandy Alderson’s comments after it takes place. You can be sure that he’ll be claiming that Mets fans will soon fall in love with the young, hungry players that he acquired. I wonder if he’ll have the temerity to use that hoary baseball “five-tool player” cliche.

While Fred Wilpon did find his white knight minority owner in David Einhorn (it’s good to see that he hasn’t lost faith in hedge fund operators) it’s unlikely that cash infusion will be used for players salaries. This looks like a straight equity for debt reduction swap.

Depressed Mets who want something to divert their interests might want to try following the Red Bulls of Major League Soccer who play their home games in beautiful Red Bull Arena in Harrison, New Jersey just outside of Newark and easily accessible via PATH. The team is led by prolific goal scorer Thierry Henry.

Even if soccer is your least favorite sport it is worth going to a Red Bulls game for the sheer entertainment value. The spectators who fill the seats behind the visiting goalie never stop singing and dancing. Two weeks ago when the Red Bulls were playing the Colorado Rapids these talented folks broke into soccer versions of “Walking In A Winter Wonderland” and the Peggy March oldie “I Will Follow Him.” They were better than most Broadway casts! Like hockey, soccer is infinitely more enjoyable in person than on television.

Major League Soccer commissioner Don Garber, who is an alumnus of Bayside High School was the featured speaker at the Sports Business Journal Franchises & Facilities conference last month. He indicated that he would like to put an expansion MLS team into Queens as soon as possible. A syndicate is trying to revive the New York Cosmos name and is hoping to get awarded the team. Garber is hoping to get a $75 to $ 100 million MLS entry fee from any New York team buyer.

The third week in May is always when the big television networks introduce their fall programming at ritual known as “The Upfront.” Nearly every network head expressed hope that the NFL labor situation would be resolved. Ironically the network that will get hurt the most if there aren’t NFL games is the one with the fewest NFL broadcasts–NBC. “Football Night in America” is NBC’s highest rated program and its new entertainment chief, Bob Greenblatt, is counting on FNIA as a promotional platform for his new shows.

Dick Ebersol, who has been running NBC Sports for well over a generation, shocked a lot of folks when he announced his resignation three days after his network’s upfront. I had an inkling that something was amiss when the usually dapper Dick showed up on stage disheveled and gave a rambling speech in which he ignored one of his network’s few sports properties, the National Hockey League.

Ebersol’s resignation, combined with Comcast’s (NBC’s new owner) traditional reluctance to spend big bucks, means that ESPN becomes the frontrunner with respect to acquiring future Olympic broadcast rights.

ESPN VP John Skipper dismissed the notion that ESPN will automatically seek higher fees from cable operators who will pass them on to subscribers. “Yes, we have been tough negotiators when it comes to revenue but it’s not true that we’ll tie the Olympics to another rate hike,” said Skipper. An ESPN public relations exec also wondered aloud to me about why other networks don’t get the same grief as ESPN even though they all make economic demands on cable and satellite providers.

Best of luck to former Islanders captain Doug Weight who announced his retirement just before Memorial Day. Weight, one of the classiest guys to ever lace up the skates, will become an assistant coach and a special assistant to Isles GM Garth Snow.

If you are looking for a good Father’s Day gift, pick up a copy of David Barrett’s Golfing With Dad (Skyhorse Publishing). Barrett gets such great PGA and LPGA pros as Arnold Palmer, Jack Nicklaus, Raymond Floyd, and Christina Kim to share their recollections of being on the links as kids with the man most responsible for shaping their lives.

Chris Jericho has been one of the WWE’s wittiest and best in-in-ring performers for years. Jericho reveals more behind-the-scenes stuff about life in the pro wrestling biz in his second book, Undisputed (Grand Central Publishing).

All wrestling fans were saddened by the death of Randy “Macho Man” Savage. Along with such comedic and talented grapplers as Hulk Hogan, Ted DiBiase , Roddy Piper, Savage helped make the ‘80s and early ‘90s a golden age for the WWE.

The feds are really starting to crack down on Internet gaming. They recently took down the website, www.bookmaker.com, which posted not only traditional sports book odds but gave the odds on such non-traditional wagering action as which film would be the highest grossing of the summer and which TV show would be the first cancellation of the fall season.

One of my all-time favorite columnists is Stanley Bing who I first read when I was an economics major back in the day at Columbia University and was subscribing to Esquire. Now a columnist with Fortune, Bing has written about the major leaguers of big business with an on-the-money sense of humor. His latest book, Bingsop’s Fables (Harper), are short stories written in the style of Aesop that tickle the funny bone but whose message is quite accurate.

If you are looking for premium water that tastes great (better than Evian and is eco-friendly, check out H2O Spring Water (yes, that is what it’s called) that comes in a tetra box package.

Internet radio is becoming a terrific hotbed for sports programming. Two shows that are worth catching on the Sports Talk Network (www.sportstalknetwork.com) are The Hockey Beat with Mr. Hockey himself, Ashley Scharge, which can be heard Monday nights at 7 PM EDT, while on the following night at 7PM EDT, Rick Morris hosts the FDH Lounge where celebrities, athletes, and media types can talk about a variety of topics and very little is off the table. This is exactly the kind of show that should be on Sirius XM.

ESPN Deportes will be getting some competition. During Upfront Week, Univision announced that it would be starting a 24-hour sports network.

Posted under Amortizations, Beltran Jose, Bottom Of The Barrel, Carlos Beltran, Cash Infusion, Equit, Fire Sale, Jose Reyes, Lloyd Carroll, Mets Fans, Mets Gm, New York Mets, Rod Rodriguez, Sandy Alderson, Standup Guy, Tom Verducci, Top Story, True Cash, Yorker Article

This post was written by Lloyd Carroll on May 28, 2011

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Do The Right Thing Mets And Retire No. 8

With all the Madoff talk, lawsuits, minority buyers, and New Yorker article talk surrounding the New York Mets, it would be hard to believe the club could every do the right thing.

But now the opportunity is staring them right in the face.

Officially retire Gary Carter’s No. 8.

With the news coming out today that “The Kid” has malignant tumors in his brain, the best way of showing Carter how much everyone cares during his fight. Carter was a key cog of the 1986 club, who meant so much to Met fans during his five years in Flushing, so an on the field celebration of his career would be a way of giving back.

If Carter starts to feel well enough to get to New York, this would be the ultimate pick me up for the Hall of Fame catcher. Any type of cancer is not easy to deal with, but brain cancer is the worst.  The best way of keeping his spirits up would be keeping his mind off the disease and show him how much he is loved.

Carter was a special player for the Mets. Without him, the young pitchers, like Ron Darling, Sid Fernandez, and even Doc Gooden to an extent, don’t develop as quickly. No Carter means no World Series in 1986, even with the stacked lineup for the Mets.

And the club knows that. No. 8 has not been issued since 2002, the year before Carter when into the Hall – when Matt Galante wore it. If Carter was inducted as a Met, then the club would have retired his number, but because he went in as an Expo – and rightfully so – there was no number retirement ceremony that summer, only a ceremony to honor “The Kid.”

But No. 8 stays dormant, much like Mike Piazza’s No. 31 and even Willie Mays’s No. 24. You can probably expect the Mets to retire 31 someday – in fact I was told it is on the eventual agenda for the franchise – and 24 probably will stay dormant as long as Rickey Henderson is away from the club.

Yet, there has been no explanation about No. 8. The Mets should just retire it or reissue it, instead of keeping it in some sort of limbo.

And if they want to retire it, this year is a perfect opportunity. Being the 25th anniversary of the 1986 club, the Mets can bring back the whole team for one last hurrah. They can retire No. 8 for Carter, while giving the whole team a day in their honor. An added bonus for the club would be a sellout crowd at Citi Field, something that’s a rarity these days, helping the Wilpon coffers as they try to pull out of the financial mess.

It would be win-win for the Mets and frankly the right thing to do.

With Mets management acting like the Gang Who Couldn’t Shoot Straight these last few years, this is an opportunity to gets some good baseball related public relations for the club.

More importantly, though, it’s the right thing to do.

Here’s Mookie Wilson’s reaction on Gary Carter.

Posted under Brain Cancer, Cog, Do The Right Thing, Doc Gooden, Hall Of Fame, Joe Mcdonald, Malignant Tumors, Matt Galante, Mike Piazza, New York Mets, Number Retirement, Pitchers, Retirement Ceremony, Rickey Henderson, Ron Darling, Sid Fernandez, Top Story, Type Of Cancer, Yorker Article

This post was written by Joe McDonald on May 27, 2011

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Now Bud Must Step In

Last month Commissioner Bud Selig took an unprecedented step in taking over the Los Angeles Dodgers, because of the actions of owner Fran McCourt and released this statement:

“Pursuant to my authority as Commissioner, I informed Los Angeles Dodgers owner Frank McCourt today that I will appoint a representative to oversee all aspects of the business and the day-to-day operations of the Club.  I have taken this action because of my deep concerns regarding the finances and operations of the Dodgers and to protect the best interests of the Club, its great fans and all of Major League Baseball.”

At the time, I wrote in Mets Inside Pitch Magazine that the Wilpon’s situation is different, as the Dodgers were not a liquid asset because of McCourt’s divorce with his wife Jamie and also the beating of Brian Stow on Opening Day created an unsafe environment at Dodger Stadium, because of McCourt’s negligence in replacing at head of security.

Yet, after the New Yorker article that came out yesterday, it is time for Selig to take the same actions against the Wilpons.

Sure the Wilpons are still looking for a buyer for up to 49 percent of the club and the only beatings at Citi Field come with Met losses, but after reading the 11,000 word piece by Jeffrey Toobin, it is clear that by trying to clear his name in the Madoff lawsuit, Fred Wilpon is damaging  the future of the New York Mets, on the field and in the pocketbook.

Wilpon gave Toobin unprecedented access, because he felt that this would tell his side of the story and Wilpon will look like an everyman to world – an innocent victim, instead of a conniving thief. Instead the opposite happened, as the owner of the Mets ripped his three biggest players saying Jose Reyes wasn’t worth “Carl Crawford” money, David Wright is not a superstar and that he was a “schmuck” for signing Carlos Beltran.

Nevermind the fact that Reyes, Wright and Beltran fall right behind Mike Piazza and Darryl Strawberry as the best position players in Mets history and forget the fact that there was some truth to what Wilpon said as well, because no player is worth Carl Crawford money, Wright has never carried an offense like Piazza did, and yes, he was a schmuck for paying Beltran that type of dough.

The fact is once Wilpon said it as the owner of the club, he immediately devalued the franchise. When Sandy Alderson tries to trade Reyes and Beltran, he may not find as big of returns for the two players and Wright, the face of the franchise, may just want to bolt in two years in Wilpon is still owner of the club.

Further that with Irving Picard, who is treating this case like a war against the Borg, sitting in his captain’s chair and telling his underlings to “Make it so!” every time a new piece of evidence comes across his desk. Last week, we find out Picard alleges the Wilpons look to purchase fraud insurance, there will probably be more coming out in the next few weeks. And each and every time, Wilpon digs in, making it more and more difficult for the Mets.

And as things get more difficult, decisions will be made based on the lawsuit and not baseball relation actions.

It’s that reason why Selig needs to step in, as the situation is spinning out of control. Alderson can easily move up to run the organization, taking the Wilpons totally out of the equation. Until this suit is settled with Picard, the Wilpons need to step away from the club to fight for their reputations and let the baseball professionals run things.

A month ago, Selig did it with the Dodgers, now he has to do it with the Mets.

Posted under Carlos Beltran, Commissioner Bud Selig, Darryl Strawberry, David Wright, Dodger Stadium, Frank Mccourt, Fred Wilpon, Innocent Victim, Joe Mcdonald, Jose Reyes, Liquid Asset, Los Angeles Dodgers, Major League Baseball, Mike Piazza, New York Mets, Positio, Top Story, Unprecedented Step, Word Piece, Yorker Article

This post was written by Joe McDonald on May 24, 2011

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