Those masters of frugality, the New York Mets, surprised the baseball world by becoming the first Major League Baseball team to sign a name free agent as they inked veteran outfielder Michael Cuddyer to a two-year, $21 million contract last week.
Normally this kind of signing spells trouble. Cuddyer will be 36 years old when the 2015 season begins and he missed most of 2014 because of a combination of shoulder and hamstring injuries. He is also a defensive liability.
Keeping up a tradition that dates back to when they hired Casey Stengel as their first manager roughly 53 years ago, the Mets have once again picked up another Yankees discard, signing Kevin Long to be their next hitting coach after he was dismissed by the Bombers from that very same position two weeks ago.
This doesn’t mean the Mets are making a mistake. Yankees general manager Brian Cashman, who made the decision to part ways with Long, basically admitted that he is a fine hitting coach but someone has to be a sacrificial lamb for the Yankees’ missing the playoffs for the second consecutive year.
Being a baby boomer, I admit that I have an affinity for the Seventies. Sure, it’s easy now to make fun of the clothing and knickknacks as the lava lamp and smiley-face stickers but they were stylish back in the day anyway. I confess that I try not to miss Sirius XM 7’s Saturday noon replays of the late Casey Kasem’s “American Top 40” countdowns.
Mets fans, however, are understandably tired of the ’70s. No, not the “Me Decade,” but rather the fact 2014 marked the sixth straight year that the team didn’t muster more than seventy-something wins. Granted, their 79 wins in 2014 was the most that they achieved under general manager Sandy Alderson’s four-season stewardship.
When word leaked out that the Mets had fired Leigh Castergine, their senior vice president in charge of ticket sales, the joke going around was that the team had finally pinpointed the cause of why they haven’t had a winning season since President Obama took office.
Any jokes about Castergine’s dismissal, which most assumed was a case of common corporate politics, quickly ended when she filed suit against the Mets in Brooklyn federal court charging that Chief Operating Officer Jeff Wilpon had humiliated her at an executive meeting. According to Castergine, Wilpon had stated at a Mets executives meeting that he was as morally opposed to her having a baby out of wedlock as he would be accepting advertisements from electronic cigarette companies for Citi Field.
2013 elections show the campaign finance law works, study says
As students and teachers head back into the classroom, some parents and union officials are heading into the courtroom.
At issue are teacher tenure and other job protections for educators. The plaintiffs in two lawsuits filed against the state this summer — including two parents from Queens suing on behalf of their children — contend that tenure and the lengthy process for removing teachers are so onerous that many bad educators remain in the system, denying children their constitutional right to a sound basic education.
Yes, there is still a month to go in the 2014 season but for all intents and purposes the Mets organization and their fans are looking ahead to next year. I will put on my turban and shine up my crystal ball as I attempt to be a clairvoyant.
The first order of business for Mets General Manager Sandy Alderson is to decide whether to retain Terry Collins as the team’s manager next year.
Terry Collins was known for being a fiery guy who alienated many players he managed during his stints with the Houston Astros and the Anaheim Angels, and many observers were surprised when the Mets hired him to be the team’s skipper four years ago. But Collins has surprised nearly everyone with his calm, almost avuncular demeanor as Mets manager.
Last Thursday, at his pregame press conference, Terry showed the short fuse that many thought that they would see far more frequently than they have. No, it wasn’t because of the Mets’ inability to get a run in from third base with less than two out, a troubling fact that he acknowledged as a leading reason why the Mets have had losing records during his tenure.
The Mets were 11 games under .500 when they returned to Citi Field July 4 after a seven-game road trip. General manager Sandy Alderson knew that he would have to address the media about his perceptions of the first half of the 2014 season. Clearly it was not a get-together that he was looking forward to having.
Alderson began the proceedings by saying he believes the Mets have the personnel to perform far better than they have been, and that they are heading in the right direction. Eyeballs were understandably rolling and heads were shaking after Alderson made that statement.
Until a few days before the 2014 NBA Draft neither the Knicks nor the Nets had a pick. The Knicks were able to obtain two second-round picks from the Dallas Mavericks as part of the deal in which they sent center Tyson Chandler and point guard Raymond Felton to Big D. They used them to select forwards Cleanthony Early from Wichita State and Thanasis Antetokounmpo from Greece. Both selections were warmly received by Knicks fans who attended the Draft at the Barclays Center.
Since his last name is a spellcheck killer, expect nearly every writer to refer to Antetokounmpo simply by his first name. His brother, Giannis, was the Milwaukee Bucks’ 2013 first-round draft choice, and he is known by that moniker the way that LeBron and Pele are referred to without surnames.
Like much of New York City, Sunnyside is hard to define.
There are many moving parts to the neighborhood that come together and create an altogether unique place to live.
David Wright and Daniel Murphy aren’t the only Queens baseball players enjoying solid seasons on the diamond; some youth ballers are having career years of their own.
Led by pitchers Christian Nunez, left, and George Psahos, the New York Angels, an Astoria-based youth travel baseball team, won their Sunday games 13-3 and 13-8 to sweep a doubleheader in Brooklyn.
Citi Field opened five years ago and the Mets have not had a winning season since. Throw in the last two years they played in Shea Stadium, 2007 and 2008, when they were in first place in September in the National League East only to wind up behind the Philadelphia Phillies, and Mets fans must feel as if they have endured a biblical seven years of famine. Well, fans of our Flushing heroes, get ready for year No. 8.
To say the fan base is dispirited is an understatement. Two years ago it appeared that Mets ownership was going to turn the page on player salaries when it settled with Irving Picard, the trustee seeking compensation for the victims of the Madoff Securities scandal. Picard had determined the Mets owners, Fred Wilpon and his brother-in-law Saul Katz, had been unjustifiably enriched by Bernie Madoff’s Ponzi scheme even though they were not complicit.
Sophomore St. John’s forward JaKarr Sampson surprised nearly everyone by declaring he will leave the Red Storm with the hopes of being drafted by an NBA team in June.
The 6-foot-8 Sampson is a good player who averaged around 14 points per game this past season, but he is not an exceptional talent, since every college team has a player just like him on its roster. He was not listed on the Wooden Award ballot in which media members select the outstanding college basketball player of the year, and there are a lot of names on it. Toss in the fact that St. John’s University was “one and done” in both the Big East and the National Invitational tournaments, and you get the feeling that NBA teams are not exactly lining up for his services.
Over the winter, a petition to make Major League Baseball’s Opening Day a national holiday garnered over 102,000 signatures on the White House’s website.
St. Louis Cardinals Hall of Famer Ozzie Smith even appeared in Budweiser-sponsored advertisements for the movement.
In an Opening Day filled with dramatic home runs, clutch strikeouts and a two out, ninth inning comeback, the second largest crowd in Citi Field history got its money's worth.
But even with a re-tooled roster and a rare sell out crowd cheering them on, they still looked like the same old Mets.
New York City may be a lot of things, but even our biggest boosters must concede it’s not a big college sports town. It’s been nearly 30 years since the St. John’s men’s basketball team made it to the Final Four and 15 years since it reached the Elite Eight quarter-finals.
Long Island University and Manhattan College have had flashes of hoops success but have not had any kind of consistency. The less said about Fordham and Columbia, the better (though in fairness, the Columbia Lions finished third in the Ivy League this year, a marked improvement over recent years, and nearly all of their players will be returning).
The combination of the press conference for pitcher Masahiro Tanaka and Derek Jeter’s announcement that this will be his last season certainly put the spotlight on the Yankees last week. That may be one reason why news of the Mets’ refinancing of a massive loan did not get a lot of play. Nonetheless it is a big story with plenty of troubling implications for Mets fans.
Bloomberg.com sports financial correspondent Kavitha Davidson wrote in her Feb. 6 article that the Mets were on the verge of delaying repayment of a $250 million loan issued by Bank of America for another seven years. Davidson cited New York Post financial columnist Josh Kosman’s Jan. 30 article saying the massive balloon payment was due this spring. Davidson took pains to point out that Kosman wrote that the new loan agreement did not restrict the Mets payroll the way the previous financial agreement did. It’s that aspect of the original covenant that raised my eyebrows.
The National Baseball Hall of Fame announced its newest members for enshrinement yesterday afternoon, past press time for this column. The conventional wisdom was that two Atlanta Braves pitching greats who won 300 games each, Greg Maddux and Tom Glavine (who also pitched for the Mets), were shoo-ins, while slugger Frank Thomas and longtime Astros star Craig Biggio, who missed by a whisker last year, could get the necessary 75 percent from the curmudgeonly members of the Baseball Writers Association of America.
Mike Piazza received a disappointing 57 percent of the vote last year, and while I hope I’m wrong my guess is he’ll get close to the magic percentage but won’t get over it this year because (a) a number of very qualified ballplayers are eligible, and (b) there are too many BBWAA me
mbers who believe that you’re guilty until proven innocent when it comes to using steroids. It should be noted that Mike never failed a drug test nor was he mentioned in the Mitchell Report, which fairly or not, gave names of reputed users of performance-enhancing drugs. He should have been elected in 2013, his first year of eligibility.
It’s rare that a free agent switches from one local ballclub to another. The only one who comes to mind is relief pitcher Pedro Feliciano, who left the Mets to join the Yankees in the fall of 2010. At the time, Feliciano was upset at how the Mets overworked him and then rewarded him by refusing to make him a reasonable offer. He never threw a pitch in a Yankees uniform because of injuries, and, ironically, rejoined the Mets as a free agent last year.
Feliciano now has company as a trivia answer, as recent Yankees outfielder Curtis Granderson has accepted a four-year, $60 million deal from the Mets. This is the Mets’ first marquee free-agent signing since their ill-fated deal with outfielder Jason Bay four years ago.
Let’s assume that it’s a given that Alex Rodriguez purchased and used illegal performance enhancement drugs from sleazy Anthony Bosch and his disgraced Miami-based company, Biogenesis.
The way the New York tabloid media, particularly Daily News national baseball writer Bill “Hang ’Em High” Madden, covered the story, not only was A-Rod guilty but he should be treated like an al-Qaeda operative or North Korean spy.
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.
It’s summertime in Queens — you’re not just sitting around the house, are you? Now that the heat’s eased up a bit, we hope you’re getting out there to hit some of the countless great spots and activities this borough has to offer. Saying there’s something for everyone would be an absolute understatement.
You a hipster? Check out the growing arts and music scene in Ridgewood or some of the many galleries in Long Island City. There’ll be a flea market this Saturday and Sunday in Ridgewood with art, vintage and handmade items (ridgewoodmarket.com), and LIC’s got everything from “Expo 1: New York,” an “exploration of ecological challenges in the context of the economic and sociopolitical instability of the early 21st century” (momaps1.org) to the “First Friday” art conversation and film at the Noguchi Museum on Aug. 2 (noguchi.org).
Last year Mets general manager Sandy Alderson quipped, “A city of 800,000 people outvoted that of 8,000,000,” after the Giants’ Pablo Sandoval beat out David Wright to be the National League’s starting third baseman in the 2012 All-Star Game.
The stakes were certainly higher for the Mets, Wright, and yes, even Major League Baseball this year, since the 2013 All-Star Game will be played at Citi Field on Tuesday. David has been MLB’s All-Star Game ambassador ever since it was announced that baseball’s midsummer classic would be played in Flushing this year. It would have been embarrassing for all parties if Wright had not been voted the NL’s starting third baseman this time.
As the saying goes: One man’s trash is another man’s gain.