It was not a great week for the Mets. First, the team announced that it’s lowering prices on most tickets by an average of 14 percent. Instead of fans being happy, the thinking is that it’s their team’s way of admitting that 2011 looks to be another dreary season. Reinforcing that fear was the release of pitcher Hisanori Takahashi, one of last year’s few bright spots, as part of the Mets’ cost-cutting.
The most troubling news was the revelation that the Mets suspended equipment manager and co-traveling secretary Charlie Samuels because of gambling allegations that are being investigated by both Major League Baseball and Queens DA Richard Brown’s office.
At last Friday’s Major League Baseball Players Alumni Association dinner, which raises thousands for youth baseball, the scandal was freely discussed. The retired players’ overall reaction was not shock, but rather, “What took the Mets so long to find out?”
One former player, who requested anonymity, questioned the Mets’ allowing Samuels to hold two jobs that gave him access to lots of cash. “The travel secretary of any team doles out meal money to the players and negotiates contracts with airlines, bus companies and hotels,” he said. “You can’t discount the possibility of kickbacks. An equipment manager can obviously get a hold of uniforms, bats and balls and sell them to collectors.”
One former Met who is doing quite well is their closer from the 1970s, Skip Lockwood. After retiring, Lockwood obtained his MBA degree from Dartmouth College and is now a financial advisor to many of players. Lockwood told me that he has been recommending exchange-traded funds, which are basically mutual funds that have commodities in their investment portfolios, to his clients.
Former Mets centerfielder Brian McRae is now a sports talk show host in Kansas City but still follows his old team. “The Mets should rehire Bobby Valentine,” McRae said with certainty. “He’ll sell tickets and have his guys play hard.”
Last Sunday’s New York City Marathon helped boost the city’s economy as runners from all over the world spent money at hotels, restaurants and retailers. The marathon is also when athletic shoe companies show off their latest wares to both runners and those who just want a comfortable shoe for the treadmill. Reebok’s ZigTech, New Balance’s 759 and 870, and Nike’s LunarGlide+2 iD all promise cushioned support, light-as-a-feather feel, and less stress. Spira Footwear continues to be the most controversial company of them all, as its newest walking shoe, the Valencia, continues the practice of placing metal spring coils in heels. Marathon-sanctioning bodies have banned runners from wearing Spira shoes.
Fencing generates surprisingly strong ratings for the summer Olympics but otherwise you hear very little about the sport. This Tuesday, some of the world’s top fencers, including native New Yorker Tim Morehouse and the striking Mariel Zagunis, will take part in the first-ever Fencing Masters NYC competition at the Hammerstein Ballroom. En garde!