Mets shortstop Jose Reyes was the National League batting champion in 2011. The pending free agent did not receive a contract offer from the Mets and signed a six-year, $106 million deal with the Miami Marlins, who would go on to trade him to the Toronto Blue Jays a year later.
In 2012, Mets knuckleball pitcher RA Dickey won the Cy Young Award for being the best pitcher in the National League. Since Dickey would be a free agent after the 2013 season, the Mets decided to trade him while they could get something in return, rather than wait a year and get nothing, as with Reyes. The Jays apparently offered the Mets the best package of prospects. One can just imagine the conversation Reyes and Dickey will have in Dunedin, Fla. when the Blue Jays open their spring training camp.
There is little doubt that the dispensing of Dickey to north of the border was done to save current and future payroll. Dickey is 38 years old, which is ancient for any traditional pitcher but not one who throws a knuckleball. On the other hand, the Mets couldn’t achieve a .500 record even with RA’s pitching heroics.
If catcher Travis d’Arnaud and pitcher Noah Syndergaard, the prospects the Mets received in the deal, come close to living up to the hype, this will be a steal for Mets General Manager Sandy Alderson. Of course Baseball America and other publications have long praised the well-stocked minor league systems of the Pittsburgh Pirates and Kansas City Royals — and yet those teams have stunk for the last 20 years.
St. John’s University, along with seven other Catholic colleges that don’t have football programs, announced that they would be leaving the Big East to start their own conference. There was no reason given as to why there is acrimony between Big East colleges that field football teams and those that don’t.
In a press release issued by St. John’s, university President the Rev. Donald Harrington and Athletics Director Chris Monasch both stated that the decision was not based on dissatisfaction with the economics of the Big East. They added, however, that they expect the new federation that will be created to do very well financially. I translate that as “We say that it’s not the money but in reality it’s the money!”
Former Newtown High School hoops star and current Detroit Pistons player Charlie Villanueva was back in the area last Friday night as his team took on the Nets at the Barclays Center. He expressed concern about his alma mater being targeted for closing by Mayor Bloomberg because of poor graduation rates. Charlie also helped the Nets accounting department by purchasing 14 tickets so that friends and family could watch him play.
Jamaica High School alum Rob Parker is both a well-respected sportswriter and an ESPN air personality whose star was on the rise until last week, when he put his foot in his mouth by criticizing Washington Redskins QB Robert Griffin III for not being attuned enough to African-American concerns or culture — in rather demeaning language to boot. Parker was immediately suspended by ESPN brass. I have known Rob for years and I am sure that he regrets what he said on the air. We’ve all said dumb things that we wish that we could retract immediately. I hope that this incident blows over as quickly as possible for him.
Parker was substituting for another Queens native, Hollis’ Stephen A. Smith, on the contrived ESPN2 morning show, “First Take,” where the name of the game is to say as many outrageous things as possible without going over the mythical line in order to create buzz, judging by the amount of attention that cohost Skip Bayless has received.
I asked Bayless at ESPN’s Upfront last May if the show is akin to college debating with a bit more of an edge. He denied that and told me that everything he says on the show is what he truly believes. My guess is that Skip’s response to my query was that of a professional wrestler who never steps out of character for the public.
ESPN Chairman George Bodenheimer, former NFL Commissioner Paul Tagliabue, Fox Sports Executive Producer Ed Goren, legendary sports essayist Jack Whitaker and former Giants running back and longtime “Monday Night Football” anchor Frank Gifford were among the inductees at the 2012 Sports Broadcasting Hall of Fame, held last week at the New York Hilton. On the technical side, Ray Dolby, whose name is synonymous with the movie industry, was also given the honor because of contributions he and his company have made to improving the television audio experience for sports fans.
The New York Islanders made a nice gesture this past Monday afternoon by sending some players from their Bridgeport Sound Tigers American Hockey League farm team to meet young patients at both St. Mary’s Hospital for Children in Bayside and the Cohen Children’s Medical Center at Long Island Jewish Medical Center. The kids always enjoy that kind of get-together with athletes.
The Christmas-New Year’s week is always a popular tourist time in Orlando. If you want to get away from the theme parks and enjoy a fun evening at minimal cost, the East Coast Hockey League’s Orlando Solar Bears have home games on both Dec. 27 and 28. The Solar Bears are an affiliate of the NHL’s Minnesota Wild and play at the Amway Center, the same arena used by the NBA’s Orlando Magic. Minor league hockey is not affected by the National Hockey League work stoppage.
Perhaps it was because it dovetailed nicely with the celebration of Chanukah, but I thought that it was a bit unusual, albeit informative, for The New York Times to dedicate a full page of its sports section last week to newly acquired Yankees free agent Kevin Youkilis’ Jewish heritage.
In a similar vein, the Film Society of Lincoln Center, the folks behind the New York Film Festival, which just marked its 50th anniversary, will be presenting the 22nd annual New York Jewish Film Festival from Jan. 9 to 24.