Sports Beat “Spending in the worst way”

I don’t have a problem with the Mets’ signing recent Yankees outfielder Curtis Granderson for reasons that I outlined last week. I am still scratching my head over why Mets general manager Sandy Alderson rushed to sign dime-a-dozen outfielder Chris Young to a one-year $7.25 million contract but I am absolutely stumped as to why he would commit $20 million for two years to rotund, soon-to-be-41 year-old pitcher, Bartolo Colon.

Yes, I know that Colon won 18 games for the Oakland A’s last year but that doesn’t mean that he will come remotely close to repeating that success in a Mets uniform. Colon missed a good chunk of the 2012 season serving a suspension for using performance enhancing drugs.

Getting back to Granderson, you would think that the Mets would introduce their first major free agent recruit in four years with a splashy press conference at Citi Field. You ‘d be wrong. The Mets had a press conference with Granderson in Orlando where the winter meetings took place. The Yankees, it should be noted, had the common sense to wait until after the winter meetings had concluded to introduce their latest free agent signing, centerfielder Jacoby Ellsbury, at Yankee Stadium last Friday.

The Mets were their usual shortsighted selves. My guess is that they figured that they could save the cost of paying the wages of the catering staff as well as the cost of food for the media by having it in Orlando. On the other hand, they lost a golden opportunity to get more coverage in both the print and electronic media by limiting access to Granderson to just the few New York journalists whose outlets had a budget to send them to the winter meetings.

Sandy Alderson can learn a lot from his Yankees counterpart, Brian Cashman. It would have been easy for Cashman to take a swipe at Robinson Cano who signed with the Seattle Mariners while griping about the lack of respect that the Yankees showed him, or fire back at Curtis Granderson when he said that “true New Yorkers are Mets fans.” Instead Cashman took the high road by praising both players while meeting with the media following the Ellsbury press conference.

I doubt that Sandy Alderson would have been that gracious judging by how he has publicly disparaged Mets shortstop Ruben Tejada who endured a miserable 2013 season. Alderson admits that there is a good chance that the Mets will have no choice but to make him their Opening Day shortstop. Of course Sandy makes it sound as he will have to hold his nose in doing so. That’s not a smart way to motivate an employee.


I chatted with Yankees CEO Hal Steinbrenner following the Jacoby Ellsbury press conference and he confirmed that Robinson Cano’s management representatives, the Creative Artists Agency, did give the Yankees a courtesy call before officially signing with the Mariners. The Yankees were not going to make the commitment to Cano that the Mariners were willing to and he wished Cano well.

Brian Cashman said that it became clear pretty early that the Yankees were not going to be able to re-sign Robinson and therefore it was imperative for the team to go in the proverbial different direction and they did so by signing Brian McCann, Jacoby Ellsbury, and Carlos Beltran.

Tom Osborne, the legendary former head coach of the Nebraska Cornhuskers, was a panelist at last week’s Sports Business Journal’s Intercollegiate Athletics Forum that was held at the Marriott Marquis. Osborne is one of the members of the newly formed College Football Playoff Selection Committee that will help determine a national college football champion next year. One of Osborne’s fellow committee members will be former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice. “She knows football and she has certainly been tested under the heat of battle,” he said defending her selection. When moderator and longtime Sports Business Journal writer Abe Madkour asked him how he will know whether his committee is successful, Osborne dryly quipped, “If we don’t get lynched then it will mean that we have done our jobs!” Osborne realizes how insanely passionate fans, particularly alumni, of a university, can be.

The various commissioners of the various athletic conferences all repeated the shopworn NCAA commandment about why schools should never compensate their student-athletes beyond the traditional scholarship. That was expected but what wasn’t was how every one of the Heisman Trophy candidates that I spoke with a few days later sided with the NCAA’s stance even though they would have benefitted from some modifications.

Alabama QB AJ McCarron got more attention when ESPN’s Brent Musburger pointed out his attractive girlfriend, Katherine Webb, in stands during last year’s BCS championship game than he did from his team winning the big game. Musburger made an innocent comment about how college quarterbacks date beautiful women and that’s why dads should throw the pigskin around with their sons when they are growing up. Many in the media and a surprising number of ESPN executives jumped all over him for the remark.

AJ McCarron said that he did not have a problem with it and admitted that he knew in advance that Musburger would point out Webb during the telecast. He also concurred with my belief that Americans, be they liberal or conservative, get very uneasy discussing physical attractiveness and its role in achieving success. Accomplishment through achievement rather than through genetics meshes with our core values.

Texas A&M quarterback Johnny Manziel surprised me when he said that he hadn’t trademarked the term “Johnny Football” since he is often referred to that way. I guess that he did not want to risk incurring the wrath of the NCAA.

Florida State University QB “Famous” Jameis Winston won the Heisman in a landslide and the margin would even had been greater if there wasn’t an allegation that he was involved with a sexual assault on a fellow student. The district attorney in Tallahassee declined to press charges and that appeared to end the matter for most Heisman voters. The alleged victim did hire an attorney, Patricia Carroll (no relation to me), who made it clear that she thought the DA was in cahoots with FSU officials who did not want to risk a disruption to a glorious football season.

At his post-Heisman press conference Winston adamantly denied any wrongdoing and spoke passionately about the quality education he is receiving at FSU and that he plans on staying in school and graduating.

Princeton QB Quinn Epperly and Harvard defensive lineman Zach Hodges, both juniors, were the 2013 recipients of the Asa Bushnell Cup, the Ivy League version of the Heisman Trophy.

Columbia University Athletics Director Dianne Murphy was at the Bushnell ceremony that was held last Monday at the Waldorf-Astoria. The day before the New York Post ran an article about the pathetic Columbia Lions football squad that finished with an 0-10 record this past season.

A number of alumni, as well as the school’s daily newspaper, the Columbia Spectator, called for the dismissals of both Murphy and her handpicked football coach Pete Mangurian. The article talked about how Mangurian insisted on having an undersized offensive line and that led to Columbia quarterbacks getting hurt. Dianne Murphy would not comment on the Post article except to admit that she had read it. What is simultaneously sad and funny is that the Post did not run the story in its sports section but rather next to its weekly “Weird But True” column.

There really isn’t any reason why the Giants are sticking with Eli Manning as their quarterback after they were eliminated from the NFL playoff hunt last Sunday following their loss to the Chargers in San Diego. It doesn’t make sense for the Giants to risk an injury to their franchise QB who is not having a great season as was evidenced by the five interceptions he threw against the Seattle Seahawks this past Sunday as the Giants were routed 23-0. Giants head coach Tom Coughlin should give former Syracuse QB Ryan Nassib a chance to play in the final two games.

You have to give NBC Entertainment president Bob Greenblatt credit for coming up with the idea of a live broadcast of the Rodgers & Hammerstein musical, “The Sound of Music.” Steven Moyer, who played Captain Von Trapp, got a chance to show that he can do more than play a vampire on HBO’s “True Blood.” Carrie Underwood is a far better singer than she is an actress but her underwhelming performance did not ruin the show that aired last Thursday.

Greenblatt is a theater aficionado. His weekly prime time show about Broadway, “Smash,” was a ratings failure but “The Sound of Music” was a winner according to the Nielsen results. NBC may try its hand at another live musical next fall. I think it would be great if they could rebroadcast the 1960 version of “Peter Pan” that starred Mary Martin and Cyril Richard in the meantime.

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