Mets fans emitted a collective groan last Friday seeing David Wright writhe in pain after running hard to first base in the 10th inning of yet another extra-inning game. The immediate diagnosis was that Wright had a suffered a pulled hamstring in his right leg.
Unlike in past years, when Mets management would delay putting players on the disabled list in the hopes of some overnight miraculous recovery which never happened, Wright was immediately placed on the 15-day disabled list. The immediate consensus was that he would not play again until early September.
You can’t blame the Mets for being cautious with their superstar. Although he is younger than Derek Jeter, the team does not want to risk having their captain try to return to duty only to watch him reinjure himself the way the Yankees captain did. Unlike the Yankees, the Mets have no shot at the postseason, so it makes total sense for Mets executives to be ultra-conservative when it comes to handling their best player, who earns more than $17 million annually.
The silver lining about Wright’s injury is that it opened up a roster spot for outfielder and Whitestone native Mike Baxter, who was unfairly sent down to the Mets’ Las Vegas AAA affiliate in June when team executives reached their patience level with struggling first baseman Ike Davis. General manager Sandy Alderson wanted to make it look like he was instituting a team shakeup to lessen the spotlight on Davis’ failure.
Alderson and manager Terry Collins were infatuated with the alleged talents of young outfielder Jordany Valdespin, to Baxter’s detriment. While Valdespin did deliver a few clutch pinch hits, he infuriated teammates with his hotdogging style, which included standing at home plate marveling at a home run he swatted in the ninth inning. If that wasn’t bad enough, his team was losing 7-1 at the time, which is not exactly a great time for showmanship.
The next day, to no one’s surprise, a Pirates pitcher hit him in the back. Jordany publicly sulked because his teammates did not storm the field in his defense and even seemed to back the Pirates’ decision to nail him.
Valdespin was eventually demoted to the Las Vegas 51s. Last week, word came back that he was back to his old tricks as he stood in the batter’s box admiring a home run he swatted against the Sacramento River Cats. The opposing pitcher naturally drilled Valdespin the next time he batted. This time, however, he got support as his manager, fiery Wally Backman, led Valdespin’s teammates onto the field for a brawl to show support. Both Valdespin and Backman drew one-game suspensions. Word is Sandy Alderson wasn’t very happy.
The Time Warner Cable-CBS dispute is the latest battle between a television network and a cable/satellite provider when it comes to carriage rights fees.
Time Warner Cable claims that it shouldn’t have to pay CBS to air its programs because it’s a broadcast network that airs its shows to the public for free. CBS argues that Time Warner Cable pays cable networks such as ESPN $6 per subscriber and that puts it at a disadvantage when negotiating sports rights fees. CBS is still smarting at how ESPN was able to outbid it for US Open rights beginning in 2015.
Time Warner removed CBS-owned stations from its lineup last Friday at 5 p.m. even though the Tiffany Network was willing to have its shows air over TWC systems while the two sides were negotiating.
Why was Time Warner so eager to pull the plug on CBS? My guess is that TWC executives figured that August is the slowest time in the television industry, since primetime shows are generally in repeats and there are few marquee sports events.
In terms of using a prize fight as an analogy, Time Warner executives were hoping to score an early knockout and have CBS settle on terms favorable to their side. If this dispute is not settled by early next month, CBS will get the upper hand for the middle rounds because it has the rights to National Football League games. They would really be in the driver’s seat if the New York Jets had a decent team, but that will not be the case in 2013.
If things were to really drag on through late September it would be a draw, because CBS needs distribution for its fall primetime shows to succeed, while Time Warner would certainly lose a lot of customers to upstart challenger Verizon Fios if viewers can’t see their old favorites or are denied the opportunity to discover the network’s new shows.
The last time Time Warner customers lost a favorite channel was when the company and MSG Networks could not agree on a deal and the channels that broadcast Knicks, Rangers, Islanders, and Devils games were pulled for 48 days. Both MSG and TWC ran acrimonious ads accusing one another of outrageous greed and negotiating in bad faith. Today, Time Warner Cable is a major sponsor at Madison Square Garden. Go figure.
I wonder if former Pittsburgh Steelers head coach Bill Cowher has offered to arbitrate this dispute since he is both an NFL analyst for CBS Sports and a spokesman for Time Warner Cable, as is evident from those annoying, ubiquitous commercials.