The most important move Mets General Manager Billy Eppler made during the past off-season was getting potential free agent outfielder Brandon Nimmo to sign an eight-year, $162 million contract to remain in Flushing. Nimmo has long been a Citi Field fan favorite for his hustle, batting eye and sunny disposition.

I spoke with Nimmo last Wednesday as the Mets were taking batting practice. “Now that your contract situation is resolved, I am curious if you had received tempting offers from other teams,” I said. It was common knowledge the San Francisco Giants were interested in him after Aaron Judge decided to re-sign with the Yankees. Nimmo confirmed they made a good offer. Then came the major surprise. “The Yankees were also very interested in me,” he added.

Unlike the Giants, who saw Nimmo as Plan B in case they were unable to sign Judge, the Yankees wanted him as a complement to their feared slugger. “The Yankees liked my ability to get on base. They saw me as a table setter for him.”

Interestingly, Judge was Nimmo’s biggest advocate when it came to getting him to cross the RFK Bridge. “I played in the Fall League with him years ago, and we have been friends ever since.” Nimmo also cited close relationships with a number of Yankees coaches, especially Luis Rojas, their third base coach. Rojas managed Nimmo in the minor leagues, as well as when he managed the Mets in 2020 and 2021.

The Yankees’ interest in Nimmo was never reported in the New York sports media, and Nimmo said that was by design. Mets CEO Steve Cohen may have learned of the interest across the East River in his player, because his big offer came almost immediately after preliminary discussions commenced with them. “They now had a budget to sign Carlos Rodon,” Nimmo said with his trademark smile.

Nimmo’s teammate in the outfield, Mark Canha, grew up in the Bay Area, and played for the Oakland Athletics, so it was natural to get his thoughts on their intention to relocate to Las Vegas. Surprisingly, he was not angry at A’s owner John Fisher, who has not invested in payroll but has nonetheless increased ticket prices.

“I owe my career to the Oakland A’s,” he said. “They selected me in the Rule V Draft from the Miami Marlins organization and gave me a chance to play in the majors. I would not be with the Mets if not for them.”

Canha is hopeful his old team will remain in Oakland despite the news the A’s purchased land in Las Vegas. “There has not been a groundbreaking there yet,” he said. “Things can always fall through, especially when politicians get involved.”

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Madison Square Garden Corp. held a pep rally for the Knicks outside of Citi Field on Wednesday just before Game 5 in which the Knicks would defeat the Cleveland Cavaliers and advance to the second round of the NBA playoffs against the Miami Heat.

Former Knicks forward Kurt Thomas accompanied the MSG caravan to Queens. He is thrilled to see the success of his old team and keeps busy working in the real estate rental market in his hometown of Dallas. “Despite rising interest rates, there has been no decrease in the amount of residential building in the greater Dallas area,” he told me.

The Westminster Dog Show will take place in Queens for the first time as it will run from this Saturday, May 6, through Tuesday, May 9, at the Billie Jean King National Tennis Center. Some of the owners and their canines made a promotional appearance at Citi Field last Friday before the Mets game with the Atlanta Braves. Mets relief pitcher Jimmy Yacabonis enjoyed getting to know the representatives from the sporting and working breeds.

Braves starting pitcher Spencer Strider, who finished second in the 2022 National League Rookie of the Year voting to teammate centerfielder Michael Harris II, is recognizable for his very slender frame and his very distinct mustache. I told him I grew mine for my 20th birthday and he said he started his during his senior year in high school. I then asked if he had received any offers from shaving companies such as Gillette. “Surprisingly, not yet!” he replied. I told him it would certainly happen if he wins the Cy Young Award in 2023. “I would hope they would. I like their products,” he said with a smile.

Former All-Star shortstop and Colorado Rockies manager Walt Weiss is currently the bench coach for the Atlanta Braves. Weiss grew up in Rockland County and I asked him if the Mets contacted him for a managerial interview after Rojas was dismissed after the 2021 season. “I did hear my name bandied about, but no, I was never invited to interview for the job. The Mets made the right choice with Buck,” he said, adding that he would be interested in managing a team again, but is very satisfied with his current job.

Mets fans who remember the team from its early years at Shea Stadium will be saddened to learn of the passing of pitcher Dennis Ribant, who died at his home in Southern California at age 81 last week. Ribant pitched for the Mets from 1964 through 1966 and an argument can be made he was the team’s best starting pitcher prior to the arrival of Tom Seaver.

Time will tell if the New York Jets blundered by agreeing to swap first-round picks with the Green Bay Packers in last week’s NFL Draft as part of the Aaron Rodgers trade. The Jets were scheduled to select 13th but wound up with the 15th pick after the trade. That did not sound like much of a difference, but the Pittsburgh Steelers used the 14th pick to draft Georgia offensive lineman Broderick Jones, who certainly would have been the Jets’ choice if they had the 13th pick. It is no secret the Jets’ offensive line did a horrible job protecting QB Zach Wilson the past two years. They cannot allow Rodgers to wind up flattened like a pancake the way Wilson has been.

ESPN’s dismissal of baseball reporter Marly Rivera because of a verbal altercation with freelance journalist Ivon Gaete, which was captured on video, attracted national attention as TMZ, People and the Washington Post covered the story. While much was made of Rivera’s foul language, the source of the dispute seems to have been ignored.

Rivera told Gaete she could not interview Aaron Judge because, Rivera claimed, she had arranged “an exclusive interview” with him. Gaete, smartly knowing only the Yankees media relations department could facilitate that, called Rivera’s bluff and bravely stood her ground.

As someone who has covered sports for a long time, I have seen reporters from big-name outlets try to use the “exclusive” gambit to chase away those from smaller ones. Some have even gone out of their way to try to get sports team media relations departments to limit access of those they perceive are beneath them on the media food chain to thin out the competition.

Most sports journalists I know are good and interesting people, as are the vast majority of team communications employees. As in any industry or profession, there are bullies who believe in a “Lord of the Flies” pecking order, and there are enablers who enjoy enforcing an outdated media caste system for their benefit.

Life and style

I had the pleasure of meeting and interviewing Jerry Springer three times. We were both alumni of Russell Sage Junior High School and Forest Hills High School, and he was happy and proud to have grown up in Kew Gardens. “I was upset when they renovated the PS 99 schoolyard because my name was spray-painted on the wall. Back then, I was known more formally as ‘Gerald,” he said with a chuckle.