Those masters of frugality, the New York Mets, surprised the baseball world by becoming the first Major League Baseball team to sign a name free agent as they inked veteran outfielder Michael Cuddyer to a two-year, $21 million contract last week.
Normally this is the kind of signing that spells trouble. Cuddyer will be 36 years old when the 2015 season begins and he missed most of the 2014 season because of a combination of shoulder and hamstring injuries. He is also a defensive liability.
Let’s give Mets general manager Sandy Alderson the benefit of the doubt for now. I bashed him for signing rotund 40 year-old pitcher Bartolo Colon to a similar one that he just lavished upon Cuddyer and Colon led the team in wins and stayed surprisingly injury-free.
Michael Cuddyer is also a professional hitter something that has been a rarity in Flushing. Even Sandy Alderson couldn’t stomach another spring training where a corner outfielder position would come down to a duel between very inexpensive options Matt den Dekker and Kirk Nieuwenhuis. Cuddyer should serve as a bridge until minor leaguers Brandon Nimmo and Michael Conforto are ready for CitiField.
The Mets can probably live with Cuddyer’s shortcomings as a fielder since they’ll have Gold Glove winner Juan Lagares playing next door to him. My guess is that anything that is not hit directly at Cuddyer will be scooped up Lagares.
Alderson and manager Terry Collins are also hoping that having Cuddyer on the roster will benefit the face of the Mets, third baseman David Wright, who endured a miserable 2014. Cuddyer grew up near Wright in the greater Norfolk area and the two are close friends.
Mets relief pitcher Vic Black was ecstatic that his team acquired Cuddyer when I saw him Monday at the Starlight Children’s Foundation Sports Auction that was held at the Hard Rock Café. Starlight’s mission is to make life more bearable for chronically ill children and their families. Black has quickly become the go-to guy when the Mets needs a player to attend a charitable event particularly when kids are involved. Other athletes who attended the Starlight event were the Islanders’ Anders Lee and Nick Leddy; the Nets’ Andrei Kirilenko and Markel Brown; the Red Bulls’ Eric Alexander; and former Knicks star John Starks and his Rangers’ counterpart, Adam Graves.
Congratulations to Mets starting pitcher Jacob deGrom who was named the National League Rookie of the Year last week. Many have forgotten that deGrom started his Mets career with an 0-4 mark through no fault of his own as the Mets, as is their wont, couldn’t score any runs for him. In spite of the Mets’ puny offense, deGrom persevered and wound up with a 9-6 record.
It’s good to see that HBO Sports is getting back into the documentary business with the revival of its “State of Play” franchise that will have episodes for the next four Tuesday evenings. The bad news is that its debut program, “Happiness,” about how retired NFL stars find happiness when their careers are over, was mediocre at best. Former Jet wide receiver Wayne Chrebet, Giants running back Tiki Barber, and certain Hall of Fame QB Brett Favre are featured.
Chrebet’s career ended prematurely because he endured too many concussions. While “Time To Play” acknowledges that fact, director Peter Berg chooses to ignore how those brain lesions impacted Chrebet’s post-NFL life. Instead Wayne merely makes it sound as if he couldn’t decide what he wanted to do and that’s why he stayed home and drove his wife, Amy, crazy. She alludes that Wayne would frequently repeat things such as “What’s for lunch?” and “Do you want to see a movie?” Wayne eventually became a successful stockbroker but he still speaks in a stop-and-go manner. All of these things are consistent with head trauma. Yet, the documentary chooses tries as hard as it can to avoid discussing concussions perhaps out of fear of angering National Football League executives.
Towards the end of “State of Play: Happiness” Peter Berg brings out Michael Strahan for a discussion. Strahan, the Hall of Fame linebacker who now has a big-time TV career as a co-host of “Live With Kelly & Michael” and Fox’s Sunday NFL pregame show, adds little insight. The only reason that he is here is that his production company is involved with “State of Play.” He basically said that when he retired after 15 seasons as a Giants player he felt strange not to be taking part in training camp when late July rolled around. That’s about as much hardship as he faced.
Interestingly, Favre, Strahan, and Barber were all involved in well-publicized scandals concerning alleged extramarital affairs and/or rumored improprieties involving the opposite sex yet that is not brought up in this documentary. The closest that any allusion is made to it is the documentary gives a statistic that close to 75% of professional athletes get divorced when their playing days are over.
A lot of Giants fans probably wish that Eli Manning had decided to retire after watching him throw five interceptions as well as failing to convert on a key fourth down and inches in Sunday’s game against the San Francisco 49ers who frankly looked far from the perennial NFL powerhouse that we’ve come to know over the years.
The Giants defense did a great job stopping the 49ers passing game but were awful against the run. Nonetheless they held the Niners to one touchdown and three field goals in spite of being on the field a long time because of Eli’s interceptions.
Former Knicks long-distance shooting guard Steve Novak is now playing for the Utah Jazz and he was back at the Garden last Friday night. Novak said that he likes Salt Lake City but admitted that it’s the antithesis of New York in terms of excitement and that he wouldn’t mind returning here. The other drawback to playing there is that every road game is a shlep. The closest NBA town to Salt Lake City is Denver which is 500 miles away.
The Jazz played sloppily against the Knicks but still managed to beat them 102-100 when their sharpshooting guard, Trey Burke, hit a game-winning jumper at the buzzer. Knicks superstar Carmelo Anthony had his best game of the season as he scored 46 points in yet another loss.
Just when you thought the Brooklyn Nets might be better than advertised they lost all three games on their first West Coast trip of the season. That has been a frequent occurrence in their history.
Every January the newest gadgets are unveiled to the public at Las Vegas’s Consumer Electronics Show. Last week, the Consumer Electronics Association held a sneak preview for the media.
LG displayed a 98’’ television screen that has four times the high definition picture resolution that is currently available in the market. Sports fans will feel that they have the best seat in the house watching it. The drawback is that its sticker price is $40,000. If history is a guide, that price should drop precipitously over the next five years.
Intel makes the processing centers for most Windows-based computers. The company has turned its attention to PC cameras. Intel representatives who showing off tablets that could take 3-D pictures of people and places. In addition these computers will probably give Skype competition when it comes to visual conversations between people who may be across the street or halfway around the world from each other.
Wrist technology better known as fitness trackers can measure calories burned through exercise as well as heartbeats and breaths. Polar and iFit were two fitness tracking brands that were showing off their latest devices.
Sharp vision is obviously important for athletic success. For athletes having good vision is not just reading the 20/20 line on an eye chart but the ability for the brain to process visual stimuli as fast as possible. Think of hitters having a split second to decide whether to swing at a pitch. There was an article on professional video game players on the front page of the Sunday Times and rapid eye-hand-brain coordination is crucial for success.
Zeavision has created a supplement, Eye Promise, that purports to help reaction time for athletes through a natural compound called zeaxanthin. The company also claims that Eye Promise supplements help older people fight macular degeneration.
Bamboo has quietly become a favorite plant of manufacturers and ecologists because it is plentiful, durable, and does not harm the environment the way that plastic does. At recent trade shows such as the International Hotel, Motel & Restaurant Show, Kosher Fest, the Tri-State Food Expo, and Biz Bash, companies as VerTerra and Ecobambooware, were showing off utensils, bowls and dishes made from bamboo which are as durable as plastic but can be disposed of without guilt. A skin care company, Lather, has created a moisturizer that is extracted from the bamboo plant.
File this one under the “What took so long?” department. American Express has created an Audience Rewards credit card that will allow users to gather points through purchases that will lead to free Broadway show tickets and even a walk-on part in “Rock of Ages.” Think of this as a frequent flyer card for patrons of the arts.
It is to be seen as to whether the Audience Rewards AmEx card will extend to next year’s New York Comedy Festival that wrapped up last week. The top names in stand-up have long played this festival. My problem with the NYCF is that it’s Manhattan-centric. There is no reason why Long Island City’s Laughing Devil, located a stone’s throw from Manhattan, can’t host an event for it even if it’s just to give up-and-comers a little attention.
A lot of us will be visiting friends and relatives for Thanksgiving dinner next Thursday. The age old question of what to bring with you is never an easy one. If you are looking for an American distilled spirit that would be perfect for the holiday, two competing Tennessee-based companies, Old Smoky and American Born, make apple pie moonshine. Moonshine is a slang term for mountain-distilled whisky.
I don’t know if this is a harbinger of things to come in 2016 but Sorraya Sampson became the first woman to lead the Urban League of Westchester in that organization’s 96-year history.
I would be remiss if I didn’t mention the passing of Yankees superfan/historian Bill “The Baker” Stimers last week.
Many of you knew Bill from his frequent calls to sports talk radio hosts. He had such an encyclopedic knowledge of sports that many writers came to him to get answers to trivia questions instead of hitting their computers and going through various search engines.
Bill could be difficult. If he did not like what I wrote he let the entire press box know it in a very booming voice. He will be missed.