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 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. But it should be pointed out that while there was some concern over Perez’s work ethic, Bay literally, to borrow a phrase 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 in which too many players find creative ways to hide from the media, the gentlemanly Jason was always available to the press and 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 40-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 in 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 to lose that I can see.
Fans are not the only ones upset with the Mets’ rudderless ways. 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 his stores would be ordering for 2013. “Absolutely!” Modell said. “People want to buy merchandise associated with winning teams and athletes. There has been a decline in the sales of Mets apparel over the last few years.”
Stephanie McMahon, the vice president of creative development for World Wrestling Entertainment, was interviewed by SBJ editor Abe Madkour at the conference. Abe asked her the secret of 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 the defeat of her mom, Linda McMahon, by Chris Murphy for Joe Lieberman’s U.S. Senate seat.
Back on the kind of wrestling done in the ring, the younger McMahon added that the WWE is trying to launch a subscription cable TV 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 HD Net, the very first 24-hour high-definition cable network, until it was rebranded 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 such one-time broadcast network staples as “JAG” and “Cheers,” and live concert broadcasts. But it took the NFL Network 10 years until Time Warner Cable broke down and allowed it to showcase its 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 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, who was held scoreless and played shoddy defense in ten minutes of court time as his 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 percent of the popular vote with a bare-bones campaign.
A number of former and current athletes made appearances at the annual Starlight Foundation fundraiser at Madison Square Garden last Monday night. The Starlight Foundation raises funds to entertain chronically ill children as well as help their families cope with the related stresses.
It has not been the most pleasant of autumns for onetime legendary Rangers enforcer Nick Fotiu. Like most hockey fans and former players, he has been frustrated by the National Hockey League lockout. But what’s truly upsetting Fotiu, a Staten Island native, is the destruction caused by Hurricane Sandy, which 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 with me that the team was lucky to have a bye week right after Hurricane Sandy hit, since many of his teammates were dealing with flooding and electrical 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 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.” Ryan could not, however, offer Dan substantial proof why this is so.
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, which was hastily formed after the U.S. 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 scrap it 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 its shoes in the USA, recently 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 such as Hershey and Nestle come to mind. Serious chocolate aficionados will scoff, however, at such 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, Fla.-based Reserveage make chocolate bars with high cocoa concentrations that are chock-full of heart-healthy antioxidants 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 it does women. Two of Avon’s cologne lines, Driven and Unplugged, feature Yankees shortstop Derek Jeter and rock star Jon Bon Jovi as spokesmen. The company is now expanding into watches, with licenses from both the NFL and the NBA. Avon is hoping that its line of Knicks, Nets, Giants and Jets watches, which have a list price of around $40, will be popular with consumers looking for holiday stocking stuffers.