The first big news to come out of the Mets’ spring training home, Port St. Lucie, Fla., was Tim Tebow announcing he was giving up on his dreams of making it to the majors. At age 33 Tebow conceded he’d never be suiting up for a game at Citi Field.
While he never enjoyed the on-field success in baseball that he had in his college and pro football career, you have to give him credit for giving it a try and staying with it from the time the Mets signed him in 2016 until now.
The minor league life is not an easy one and, to his credit, Tebow rode the same buses and stayed in the same motels as his teammates did without complaint. He was also responsible for selling out every ballpark in which he played much the way Michael Jordan did during his mid-1990s sabbatical from the NBA. It might be a smart idea for every MLB team to have a designated minor league roster spot for a celebrity.
Tebow may have had trouble hitting professional pitching but he has nothing to be embarrassed about.
The Mets signed 28 year-old free agent right-handed pitcher Taijuan Walker. Walker and Joey Lucchesi, who was signed earlier in the winter, are back of the rotation guys. These aren’t the sort of signings that create exciting backpage headlines but they’re frequently the difference between a team making or not making the playoffs. This pair should be better than Rick Porcello and Michael Wacha were in those roles last year, but then again that’s a pretty low bar.
It’s safe to assume Mets outfielder Michael Conforto, who is seeking a lengthy and lucrative contract, was ecstatic to learn the San Diego Padres signed their 22-year-old shortstop Fernando Tatis Jr. to a 14-year, $340 million contract.
Michael Schwimer, who pitched for the Phillies from 2011 to 2013, was certainly popping champagne bottles when Tatis inked his deal. Schwimer, whom I got to chat with quite a bit during his brief playing career, is far better in the world of finance (he studied statistics at the University of Virginia) than he was at pitching.
Schwimer spent a lot of time in the minors and endured the paltry wages on which minor leagues have to survive. In 2016 he started Big League Advance, which emulated the economic model of the recording industry. Big League Advance fronts cash to minor league players who have a decent shot at making the majors. In exchange, players agree to yield a percentage of all future earnings to Schwimer’s company. If they don’t make it to “The Show” then they don’t have to repay the advance. Big League is expected to garner $30 million over the life of Tatis’ new contract.
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New York Yankees pitcher Jameson Taillon, who was acquired over the winter in a trade with the Pittsburgh Pirates, got off the best quip so far at a baseball spring press conference. When he was asked what it was like to join the Yankees, he replied, “My parents want to know if I am making new friends!”
In an ever-changing world it’s nice to know there is an occasional constant such as the Yankees bringing back outfielder Brett Gardner for his 14th season. Even at age 37 Gardner is still a tough out. He always shows discipline at the plate as he rarely chases bad pitches. He’s the third-longest tenured professional athlete in the New York market behind the New Jersey Devils’ Travis Sajak and the New York Islanders’ Josh Bailey.
Washington Wizards star point guard Russell Westbrook will serve as the executive producer for a History Channel documentary, “Tulsa Burning,” which will air this spring. It coincides with the 100th anniversary of the racially motivated attack on the very successful African-American community in that city. Westbrook learned about the Tulsa tragedy during his tenure with the Oklahoma City Thunder.
Life and style
Horror mixed with a dash of comedy appear to be popular with streaming services based on last week’s CTAM (the trade association that promotes cable networks and streamers) Winter Press Tour. Apple TV+ will be launching “Servant” from writer/director M. Night Shyamalan (best known for the 1999 film “The Sixth Sense”) while AMC+ will be reviving the “Creepshow” anthology, which was the creation of the late and legendary George Romero.
Apple TV+ will soon be introducing “Physical,” which stars Rose Byrne as a 1980s TV aerobics guru. The show gets its title from the gigantic 1981 Olivia Newton-John hit (40 years can sure fly by!). It should owe a debt to Jane Fonda whose very popular exercise videos at the time created demand for workout centers and gyms. Many of those fitness chains were still going strong until the pandemic hit last year.
HBO Max, Warner Media’s streaming service that debuted last Memorial Day, has announced that its high school series set in contemporary Anaheim, Calif. “Genera+ion,” will debut on March 11. Expect this to be far racier than “Saved by the Bell,” which is getting a new life on Peacock.
Speaking of Peacock (the streaming service from Comcast that doesn’t charge subscribers who don’t mind viewing commercials), it will be going bilingual this fall with its first telenovela, “Armas De Mujer,” which will star Roselyn Sanchez. This is the kind of show that would normally run on Comcast’s Spanish language broadcasting network, Telemundo.
Peacock hosted a Zoom press panel with both Zerlina Maxwell and Mehdi Hasan, who have hour-long shows there. Maxwell and Hasan are frequent contributors to politically left-leaning MSNBC. When asked if their shows will have guests with opposing viewpoints, which rarely happens these days on cable news networks such as Fox News, Newsmax, CNN and MSNBC, they politely demurred.
“Bridge and Tunnel,” which airs Sundays at 9 p.m. on the premium cable network Epix, is the creation of veteran actor/director Ed Burns. The show is set in Nassau County during the summer of 1980 and truly captures that far more innocent time with the music that played on Top 40 radio stations.
Burns, who has a supporting role in “Bridge and Tunnel,” grew up a big Mets fan in Valley Stream. It’s not a coincidence the first episode of “Bridge and Tunnel” featured a broadcast of a Mets game on Channel 9 with the late Bob Murphy handling the play-by-play. The lead actor is Sam Vartholomeos, who was born in Astoria and still lives there.
This one is well worth your time.