It seems somewhat ironic that after three years of speculation about whether the Wilpon family would have to sell the Mets, rumors surfaced just before Memorial Day weekend that the Steinbrenner family was entertaining offers to sell the Yankees.
Yankees President Randy Levine and Chief Operating Officer Lonn Trost immediately issued strong denials that the team was on the selling block while Major League Baseball issued a press release reiterating that the Yankees were not on the market.
Even though the Yankees brass and MLB Commissioner Bud Selig are pooh-poohing any talk regarding a transference of ownership once can certainly understand why team CEO Hal Steinbrenner might entertain offers.
Hal Steinbrenner has always been extremely cordial and candid when I have had the occasion to speak with him, but he certainly does not enjoy being the star of the sports pages the way his late father, the legendary George Steinbrenner, did. He is also far more focused on the bottom line of the income statement than his dad ever was.
The Yankees have been conservatively valued at $2 billion With so much competition for the leisure consumer dollar and the economic woes of the last four years, combined with how pro football has supplanted baseball as our top sport, Hal may feel that this may be the optimal time to cash out.
Tax issues may also influence the Steinbrenner clan to sell. The capital gains tax rate, which is currently pegged at 15 percent, is scheduled to be hiked next year, barring any action on the parts of Congress and President Obama. Selling the Yankees now could net the Steinbrenners hundreds of millions more than if they wait.
It should also be noted that the estate tax was suspended in 2010, the year that George Steinbrenner passed away. Had it been in effect then, there was a good chance that the team would have been sold shortly after his death.
You have to give Mets General Manager Sandy Alderson credit for candor. Sandy was asked by Mets broadcaster and Bellerose native Gary Cohen during a rain delay last Thursday if he was concerned about the Mets’ lack of home run prowess this season. Instead of dancing around the question or playing up other strengths, he immediately responded “Absolutely. It has been proven that the team that hits more home runs in a game generally wins that game.” He then added for good measure that he was also worried about the Mets’ lack of speed on the base paths. I’m sure the Mets ticket sales department must have been thrilled.
If the financially troubled New Jersey Devils beat the Los Angeles Kings to win the Stanley Cup, I wonder if the team’s creditors will try to grab the trophy and have it sold at auction!
Former Mets closer Armando Benitez has just signed a contract with the Long Island Ducks of the Atlantic League.
Former Mets outfielder Jeff “Frenchy” Francouer is one of the most upbeat guys that you’ll ever meet. Now playing for the Kansas City Royals, Frenchy was getting heckled in a good-natured way by A’s fans in the right field bleachers a few weeks ago. Rather than get angry or pretend to be deaf to their chants, he bought them 20 boxes of pizza to enjoy during the game. Needless to say, those rabid Oakland fans gave him a standing ovation every time he batted.
I asked him if fans in other ballparks now expect similar treatment, when I saw him at Yankee Stadium last week.
“That goes without saying. Of course buying 20 boxes of pizza here at Yankee Stadium would put a dent even in a major league player’s salary,” Jeff said with his traditional hearty laugh. “The important thing is that I enjoy breaking the wall that exists between too many athletes and fans. We have to remember that we are in the entertainment business.”
Dale Thayer, who spent of most last season pitching for the Mets’ Triple-A farm club, the Buffalo Bisons, is now the closer for the San Diego Padres. Unfortunately for Dale, the awful Padres generally don’t have a lead to protect going into the ninth inning of most games.
Knicks and Rangers fans who remember the aggravation they endured this past winter when Time Warner Cable and the MSG Network couldn’t come to an agreement and therefore they couldn’t watch their favorite teams for over a month have to feel for the Padres and their fans. Time Warner Cable in Southern California is having a similar rate dispute with Fox Sports West which carries the Padres games in San Diego.
According to Padres broadcaster Ted Leitner, Time Warner Cable is the TV provider for over 40 percent of the homes in San Diego County. For a struggling team that lacks name players, lack of television coverage is a financial disaster for the Padres.
Time Warner competes with Fox Sports when it comes to broadcast team rights (TWC spent a fortune to become the provider for the LA Lakers) on the West Coast, so the antipathy between MSG and TWC here was small potatoes compared to the current Time Warner Cable-Fox Sports skirmish in California.