It’s rare that a free agent switches from one local ballclub to another. The only one who comes to mind is relief pitcher Pedro Feliciano, who left the Mets to join the Yankees in the fall of 2010. At the time, Feliciano was upset at how the Mets overworked him and then rewarded him by refusing to make him a reasonable offer. He never threw a pitch in a Yankees uniform because of injuries, and, ironically, rejoined the Mets as a free agent last year.
Feliciano now has company as a trivia answer, as recent Yankees outfielder Curtis Granderson has accepted a four-year, $60 million deal from the Mets. This is the Mets’ first marquee free-agent signing since their ill-fated deal with outfielder Jason Bay four years ago.
While many Mets fans were ebullient to see their team finally make a splash in the off-season, there is understandable concern about the deal. Many fear that at 33, Grandy’s best days are behind him, and that he could turn out like Bay, both in terms of poor performance and being a fixture on the disabled list. If he were to flop, then the team would happily go back to its penny-pinching ways.
The other negative is that Granderson is a strikeout-prone power hitter. Given Citi Field’s spacious dimensions, the strikeouts could well continue but the home runs would not.
More optimistic Mets fans will point out that Granderson, unlike Bay, has proven himself as a guy who can handle the pressures of playing in New York. They also believe that Granderson can tailor his offensive game to his home ballpark. Sure, he swung for the short corner fences in Yankee Stadium, but when he played for the Tigers in Detroit’s cavernous Comerica Park, he utilized the outfield gaps for extra-base hits.
David Wright is a beneficiary of Curtis joining the Mets, as he finally has a legitimate power hitter in the lineup, so pitchers can’t work around him. Wright will also get some relief in the clubhouse as the Mets’ unofficial player spokesman for the media. The personable Grandy is one of the few baseball players with a college degree in business administration and always gives thoughtful answers.
Fellow newly acquired Mets outfielder Chris Young has to be relieved as well. Mets general manager Sandy Alderson inexplicably signed Young, who batted a very pedestrian .200 with a dozen homers for the A’s last season, to a one-year $7.25 million contract. There is no doubt that fans who were tired of seeing their team not spend when it should, and vice-versa, would have booed Young mercilessly if he was Sandy’s lone free-agent signing this winter.
When the Yankees introduced their first major free-agent signing of the off-season, catcher Brian McCann, to the media at Yankee Stadium, you got a sense of foreboding from Yankees executives that second baseman Robinson Cano would be finding greener pastures, both literally and figuratively, away from the Bronx.
I asked Yankees CEO Hal Steinbrenner if he expected Cano’s representatives, CAA, to give him a chance to match a potential winning offer from a rival club. “Robinson came up through the Yankees organization and he knows that we think very highly of him,” Steinbrenner said. “I would expect that courtesy to be extended.”
Cano signed the next day with the Seattle Mariners, something that no one would have imagined as recently as a week earlier. Reports are that the Yankees were given a chance to match the offer, but they understandably did not want to get tied down with a 10-year, $240 million obligation to a single player.
As for McCann, he appeared to be genuinely excited to be a member of the Yankees and surprisingly blase about leaving the Braves considering that (a) he played his entire nine-year career for them and that (b) he grew up in northern Georgia. He did admit surprise about the fact that the Braves will be moving from Turner Field in downtown Atlanta to a new ballpark in suburban Cobb County in 2017. Turner Field won’t even be 20 years old then. This should be a lesson as to why municipalities should not subsidize sports teams in any way.
The Knicks ended their nine-game losing streak last Thursday by thumping the even-worse Brooklyn Nets 113-83 at the Barclays Center. The following evening prior to the Knicks’ blowing out the Orlando Magic, I asked Knicks coach Mike Woodson if he was concerned about what might have happened to him had the Knicks lost to the Nets the previous night. “Losing my job never entered my mind,” he claimed.
I realize that professional sports team coaches can be single-minded to a fault but it is hard to believe that Woodson could be oblivious to how much Knicks CEO James Dolan despises Nets owner Mikhail Prokhorov, and worse, seeing the Knicks lose to his team. Just about a year ago, Prokhorov sacked Nets head coach Avery Johnson a week after the Knicks ran the Nets out of Madison Square Garden.
The St. John’s Red Storm men’s basketball team made their season debut at Madison Square Garden last Saturday afternoon as they destroyed the Fordham Rams 104-58. The Rams were hurt by the poor shooting of highly touted freshman guard Jon Severe, who was a star at Christ the King High School for the last three years.
After the game St. John’s coach Steve Lavin admitted that basketball etiquette is a thorny issue when a team is badly beating another. He cleared his bench for the final minutes in the hopes of not embarrassing his Fordham counterpart, Tom Pecora, further. The problem was that instead of dribbling the ball and passing it around to wind down the clock, Red Storm players such as guard Max Hooper were hoisting up three-point shots. That struck me as poor sportsmanship.
The Islanders have not given their fans much reason to smile this year as they have regressed to once again being NHL patsies. They did a nice thing last week as they donated $2 of every ticket sold for their game with the Penguins to Smile Train, a nonprofit organization that gets surgeons to perform procedures on children who were born with the deformity of a cleft palate and whose parents cannot afford the necessary medical care.
Jets QB Geno Smith finally ended his touchdown pass drought last Sunday as the Jets easily beat the Oakland Raiders last Sunday. Smith looked a lot sharper than at any time since before the bye week well over a month ago. The Jets offensive line gave him protection and he certainly took advantage of the return of receivers Jeremy Kerley and Kellen Winslow. The only exasperation for Jets fans was their team’s inability to tackle in the third quarter, which led to a pair of fast and easy Raiders touchdowns in the third quarter.
The Pinstripe Bowl will take place Saturday, Dec. 28 at Yankee Stadium as Notre Dame will take on Rutgers.
Last Wednesday Delta Air Lines held its annual “Holiday in the Hangar” for a select group of local kids. This year 150 students from Far Rockaway’s PS 197 were the lucky guests who got to enjoy fun food and entertainment. Actress Ashley Tisdale was a special guest at Delta’s JFK party.
After a long day at work followed by a tough commute back home, it is tough to start cooking dinner from scratch. Ordering out can be expensive, and most frozen dinners leave a lot to be desired both taste- and nutrition-wise. Cuisine Solutions, a company out of Alexandria, Va., has come up with oversized frozen prepared gourmet dishes such as beef Wellington, short ribs, and chicken Marsala. Some can be cooked in the microwave oven while others do require the conventional oven.
Contrary to popular belief, not every series on cable’s AMC is a hit. “Low Winter Sun,” a weekly hour-long show about organized crime in Detroit, failed to capture the public’s attention the way that “Mad Men,” “Breaking Bad” and “The Walking Dead” did. Last week AMC announced that there would not be a second season of “Low Winter Sun.”
Happy birthday to Playboy magazine, which just turned 60 years old. There is a reason why “I read it for the articles” has become an American cliche. Hugh Hefner put as much effort into getting great writers and fascinating interview subjects as he did selecting centerfolds.