It’s no secret the Mets former owners, the Wilpons, made their share of financial and personnel blunders running the team. Among their biggest doozies was offering outfielder Bobby Bonilla a 25-year annuity, which pays him $1.19 million each July 1 instead of paying him the lump sum of $5.9 million he was owed for the 2000 season. The payments began in 2011 and are scheduled to end in 2035.
Mets fans refer to July 1 as Bobby Bonilla Day as a way of ridiculing the Wilpons. New Mets owner Steve Cohen is well aware of it and on Twitter he announced he’d like to have some fun by inviting Bonilla to Citi Field that day and handing him an oversized check and letting him address the fans. Cohen added he’d like to make it a yearly tradition.
While it’s great Cohen has a fan’s mindset the odds are Bonilla isn’t going to go along with an annual appearance even if he is given an honorarium for being a good sport. My suggestion to Cohen is to offer Bonilla a lump-sum settlement exceeding the present value of the remaining annuity after factoring in income taxation considerations. That should entice him to embrace a final “Bobby Bonilla Day.” It would also remove an embarrassing appendage of the Wilpon era.
When I learned Mets second baseman Robinson Cano had tested positive for using performance-enhancing drugs for the second time in his MLB career, resulting in a suspension for the entire 2021 season resulting in a forfeiture of his $24 million salary, my initial thought turned to the Wilpons. “Now he tests positive!” had to have been their reaction.
Cano, along with beleaguered closer Edwin Diaz, was acquired two years ago from the Seattle Mariners by then Mets General Manager Brodie Van Wagenen in his first major trade.
Mets fans were livid Van Wagenen agreed to include the team’s first-round draft pick, outfielder Jarred Kelenic, in the deal. They also felt there was a conflict of interest since Cano was one of Van Wagenen’s big-ticket clients when he was working as an agent at CAA.
Cano has understandably been pilloried by both Mets fans and the local media for forfeiting his $24 million 2021 salary. I’d like to offer him a defense. He could easily have taken the money while batting .180 and running half-speed to first base. The only cost to him would have been the boos from the Flushing faithful. To his credit, Cano wanted to produce and receive the approbation from the home fans. He did bat .316 in 2020 and was one the Mets’ more reliable hitters. Cano is 37 and at that age it’s hard for most athletes to be as productive without a little help from their pharmaceutical friends.
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The Brooklyn Nets have re-signed sharp shooting guard Joe Harris to a four-year contract. Harris has been the team’s most reliable three-point sniper and was sought by other NBA teams. He is also one of the most accessible NBA players as far as media are concerned.
2020 has been a strange year in professional sports but one thing remains the same — there won’t be a Major League Soccer champion around here yet again as both the New York Red Bulls and the New York City Football Club were bounced from the MLS playoffs on Saturday.
Life and style
Conan O’Brien has been a late-night TV talk show host since 1992 so it was surprising when he announced last week he’ll be ditching his eponymous TBS 11 p.m. show in favor of a weekly variety show on the HBO Max streaming service. Both TBS and HBO Max are owned by Warner Media.
O’Brien indicated he is making this career move because he fears late night daily talk shows on broadcast television could be going the way game shows and soap operas have during daytime and he wants to stay ahead of the curve.
If you are a pop or rock music fan of 1980s music and want to know what went on behind the scenes at a major record label, be sure to pick up a copy of Dave Morrell’s self-published “Run-Out Groove.”
Morrell worked in the promotions department of Capitol Records during the Reagan era, and his tales of foul-mouthed bosses who thought every record was a hit and the threats they made if they didn’t climb the charts are quite funny. Morrell also recalls conversations with stars running the gamut from John Lennon (slain just as the ’80s got underway) and Paul McCartney to Bob Seger to yes, Donny Osmond (whom he speaks of very highly.)
Last week was a very difficult one for me as I lost my cousin and great friend, Sheldon Silver (not the disgraced former New York State Assembly speaker), to a very rare and aggressive disease, biliary cancer.
I have written many travel articles over the years for the Queens Chronicle, and Sheldon was with me for a lot of them. We logged thousands of miles over the years and thanks to him I saw more major league and minor league baseball stadiums than I could ever have imagined in my wildest dreams.
We’d get together around two times a month just to have dinner and enjoy conversation. It was always fun and time always moved too quickly.