Sports Beat “Jeff’s Mess”

     When the word leaked out two weeks ago that the Mets had fired Leigh Castergine, their senior vice president in charge of ticket sales, the joke going around was that the team had finally pinpointed the cause of why they haven’t had a winning season since President Obama took office.

Any jokes about Castergine’s dismissal, which most assumed was a case of common corporate politics, quickly ended when she filed suit against the Mets in Brooklyn Federal Court charging that chief operating officer Jeff Wilpon had humiliated her at an executive meeting.       According to Castergine, Wilpon had stated at a Mets executives meeting that he was as morally opposed to her having a baby out of wedlock as he would accepting advertisements form electronic cigarette companies for Citi Field.

At least he’s right about the e-cigarettes.

Castergine then filed a complaint with the Mets’ human resources department. Apparently that did not go well as she did not get any sympathetic support there. When Jeff Wilpon found out that she documented her complaint internally he ordered her dismissal. The Mets offered her a severance package if she agreed not to pursue legal action against them. She obviously rejected that offer. Not surprisingly the Mets have issued a statement that lawsuit is without merit.

What I find interesting is that no one in the Mets organization is denying Castergine’s recollections. Even some media members who others consider to be shills for the team admitted to me that they could easily picture Jeff Wilpon saying exactly what Castergine claims.

I have not had a lot of dealings with Jeff over the years but I do remember asking him a business question about the Mets a few years ago following a press conference. “We’re not ready to disclose that to the Queens Chronicle,” he answered in a rather dismissive manner that I’ve heard was typical of him. Many have applied the famous baseball joke about wealthy kids to him; namely that he was born on third base but thinks that he hit a triple.

The separate off-field domestic violence incidents involving National Football League running backs Ray Rice and Adrian Peterson have monopolized the sports pages and thus this story has not received as much play as it should have. Jeff Wilpon however should be very concerned given the scrutiny that sports owners and commissioners are now getting in the aftermath of the Donald Sterling scandal. NFL commissioner Roger Goodell can attest to that.

The accounting term that is used for these kind of corporate lawsuits where the plaintiff has a high likelihood of prevailing is called a contingent liability. My guess is that the Mets’ accounting department will have to estimate an exposure in the low seven figures even if they are able to settle out of court.

That will affect off-season player acquisitions. Sorry, Mets fans.

In a happier Mets story, David Wright and Dillon Gee visited Fire Station 288 in Maspeth last Wednesday as a way of commemorating the 13th anniversary of 9/11 that would occur the following day. Wright’s dad served in the Norfolk, Virginia police department while Gee’s dad is a fire fighter in Fort Worth, Texas.

It turns out that Mets general manager Sandy Alderson knew what he was doing when he signed outfielder Chris Young to a one-year, $7.5 million contract. The only problem was that he didn’t know that Young could only perform on the other side of the RFK Bridge.

After being unceremoniously released from the Mets last month, Yankees general manager Brian Cashman signed Young to a minor league contract and had him join the big league team when the rosters were allowed to expand on September 1. Since then, Chris Young, not the about-to-retire Derek Jeter, has been the story for Bronx Bombers fans with his clutch-hitting, base steals, and stellar defense.

There was some good news for Giants fans in Big Blue’s 25-14 loss on Sunday to the Arizona Cardinals. Eli Manning look like his old self as he confidently completed passes to tight end Larry Donnell. Eli finally got decent protection from his much maligned offensive line.

The bad news was that Manning’s favorite passing target, Victor Cruz, had a day to forget as he dropped many catchable passes; running back Rashad Jennings fumbled at the Cardinals 15-yard line late in the game with the Giants down by 8; and the special teams allowed the Cards’ Ted Ginn, Jr. to return a Steve Weatherford punt 71 yards for a touchdown that put Arizona in the lead for good.

The NFL has received a ton of bad press lately so it’s only fair to point out a positive. Giants head coach Tom Coughlin and his staff world gold ribbons on their jackets as part of a “Go Gold” promotion to raise awareness and research for pediatric cancer.

Coughlin started the Tom Coughlin Jay Fund in 1996 in honor of the memory of Jay McGillis, a player on the Boston College Eagles who Coughlin coached before he moved onto the NFL, who lost his life to cancer. The term “pediatric cancer” can sometimes be a misnomer since it applies to anyone who has not yet reached their 23rd birthday.

It wasn’t so much that the Jets lost to the Green Bay Packers at Lambeau Field on Sunday. That was expected. What hurts was that the Jets were up 21-3 early in the second half before ultimately falling 31-24.

Geno Smith, who looked sharp early, appeared to wilt once his Packers counterpart, Aaron Rodgers, started to play well. Last week Smith did not have to worry about the other QB because the Jets defense easily manhandled Raiders rookie Derek Carr.

If the Jets are going to be a playoff team Smith is going to have to match, if not outplay, many of the NFL’s household name passers.

It was a nice touch by Madison Square Garden CEO James Dolan to promise $100,000 for the ALS Association if he can get over 6,000 folks to play the kazoo simultaneously Thursday night to break a Guinness World Book record when his band, JD & the Straight Shot, opens for the Eagles at the Garden. All fans entering the Garden will receive the small woodwind compliments of JD himself.

In the “What took so long?” department, Sony Pictures will launch “Sports Jeopardy,” which is the first-ever spinoff of the classic syndicated weeknight quiz show. The show will air on, the television-themed website that Sony operates (its best known program is Queens College alum Jerry Seinfeld’s “Comedians In Cars Getting Coffee”). NBC Sports’ Dan Patrick assumes the Alex Trebek hosting duties.

Hip-hop star and occasional boxing promoter Curtis “50 Cent” Jackson, who grew up in South Jamaica, humorously challenged Floyd Mayweather to a boxing match as part of a promotion for a new social media video app, Hang W/ ( The still undefeated Mayweather easily dispensed with Marcos Maidana Saturday night and is starting to think about his next bout. My guess is that he would rather fight Fitty than Manny Pacquiao.

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