Sportsbeat – 5/28/11

You have to say this for Mets owner Fred Wilpon; he’s a standup guy. When news leaked of Jeffrey Toobin’s New Yorker article on the Mets in which Wilpon got in digs at Carlos Beltran, Jose Reyes and David Wright, he did not wimp out and say that he was misquoted. “Frustrated Fred” was merely channeling his inner Steinbrenner.

While the Toobin piece generated the buzz, the more troublesome article on the Mets owner was penned by Tom Verducci in Sports Illustrated. The piece was fairly sympathetic to Wilpon but he made it clear that he expects his team to lose $70 million (don’t ask me if that is actually a true cash loss or it that figure includes such items as depreciation and other big asset amortizations and write-offs) and that he wants the Mets 2012 payroll to be around $100 million.

The SI article means that Jose Reyes, Carlos Beltran and Francisco “K-Rod” Rodriguez are certain to be dealt by the July 31 trade deadline. Mets GM Sandy Alderson tried to minimize the damage by saying that he has not ruled out making Reyes a long-term offer but you get the feeling that was just window dressing so that other teams wont’ make him a bottom-of-the-barrel trade offer.

A few years ago the knock on the Mets was that they were imitating the Yankees by trying to sign high-priced free agents. I have a feeling that the Mets will now be copying the way the Pirates and the Royals do business. I can barely wait for the Mets’ inevitable fire sale and Sandy Alderson’s comments after it takes place. You can be sure that he’ll be claiming that Mets fans will soon fall in love with the young, hungry players that he acquired. I wonder if he’ll have the temerity to use that hoary baseball “five-tool player” cliche.

While Fred Wilpon did find his white knight minority owner in David Einhorn (it’s good to see that he hasn’t lost faith in hedge fund operators) it’s unlikely that cash infusion will be used for players salaries. This looks like a straight equity for debt reduction swap.

Depressed Mets who want something to divert their interests might want to try following the Red Bulls of Major League Soccer who play their home games in beautiful Red Bull Arena in Harrison, New Jersey just outside of Newark and easily accessible via PATH. The team is led by prolific goal scorer Thierry Henry.

Even if soccer is your least favorite sport it is worth going to a Red Bulls game for the sheer entertainment value. The spectators who fill the seats behind the visiting goalie never stop singing and dancing. Two weeks ago when the Red Bulls were playing the Colorado Rapids these talented folks broke into soccer versions of “Walking In A Winter Wonderland” and the Peggy March oldie “I Will Follow Him.” They were better than most Broadway casts! Like hockey, soccer is infinitely more enjoyable in person than on television.

Major League Soccer commissioner Don Garber, who is an alumnus of Bayside High School was the featured speaker at the Sports Business Journal Franchises & Facilities conference last month. He indicated that he would like to put an expansion MLS team into Queens as soon as possible. A syndicate is trying to revive the New York Cosmos name and is hoping to get awarded the team. Garber is hoping to get a $75 to $ 100 million MLS entry fee from any New York team buyer.

The third week in May is always when the big television networks introduce their fall programming at ritual known as “The Upfront.” Nearly every network head expressed hope that the NFL labor situation would be resolved. Ironically the network that will get hurt the most if there aren’t NFL games is the one with the fewest NFL broadcasts–NBC. “Football Night in America” is NBC’s highest rated program and its new entertainment chief, Bob Greenblatt, is counting on FNIA as a promotional platform for his new shows.

Dick Ebersol, who has been running NBC Sports for well over a generation, shocked a lot of folks when he announced his resignation three days after his network’s upfront. I had an inkling that something was amiss when the usually dapper Dick showed up on stage disheveled and gave a rambling speech in which he ignored one of his network’s few sports properties, the National Hockey League.

Ebersol’s resignation, combined with Comcast’s (NBC’s new owner) traditional reluctance to spend big bucks, means that ESPN becomes the frontrunner with respect to acquiring future Olympic broadcast rights.

ESPN VP John Skipper dismissed the notion that ESPN will automatically seek higher fees from cable operators who will pass them on to subscribers. “Yes, we have been tough negotiators when it comes to revenue but it’s not true that we’ll tie the Olympics to another rate hike,” said Skipper. An ESPN public relations exec also wondered aloud to me about why other networks don’t get the same grief as ESPN even though they all make economic demands on cable and satellite providers.

Best of luck to former Islanders captain Doug Weight who announced his retirement just before Memorial Day. Weight, one of the classiest guys to ever lace up the skates, will become an assistant coach and a special assistant to Isles GM Garth Snow.

If you are looking for a good Father’s Day gift, pick up a copy of David Barrett’s Golfing With Dad (Skyhorse Publishing). Barrett gets such great PGA and LPGA pros as Arnold Palmer, Jack Nicklaus, Raymond Floyd, and Christina Kim to share their recollections of being on the links as kids with the man most responsible for shaping their lives.

Chris Jericho has been one of the WWE’s wittiest and best in-in-ring performers for years. Jericho reveals more behind-the-scenes stuff about life in the pro wrestling biz in his second book, Undisputed (Grand Central Publishing).

All wrestling fans were saddened by the death of Randy “Macho Man” Savage. Along with such comedic and talented grapplers as Hulk Hogan, Ted DiBiase , Roddy Piper, Savage helped make the ‘80s and early ‘90s a golden age for the WWE.

The feds are really starting to crack down on Internet gaming. They recently took down the website,, which posted not only traditional sports book odds but gave the odds on such non-traditional wagering action as which film would be the highest grossing of the summer and which TV show would be the first cancellation of the fall season.

One of my all-time favorite columnists is Stanley Bing who I first read when I was an economics major back in the day at Columbia University and was subscribing to Esquire. Now a columnist with Fortune, Bing has written about the major leaguers of big business with an on-the-money sense of humor. His latest book, Bingsop’s Fables (Harper), are short stories written in the style of Aesop that tickle the funny bone but whose message is quite accurate.

If you are looking for premium water that tastes great (better than Evian and is eco-friendly, check out H2O Spring Water (yes, that is what it’s called) that comes in a tetra box package.

Internet radio is becoming a terrific hotbed for sports programming. Two shows that are worth catching on the Sports Talk Network ( are The Hockey Beat with Mr. Hockey himself, Ashley Scharge, which can be heard Monday nights at 7 PM EDT, while on the following night at 7PM EDT, Rick Morris hosts the FDH Lounge where celebrities, athletes, and media types can talk about a variety of topics and very little is off the table. This is exactly the kind of show that should be on Sirius XM.

ESPN Deportes will be getting some competition. During Upfront Week, Univision announced that it would be starting a 24-hour sports network.

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