Carroll: Winter Workout Wackiness

The Mets have taken a lot of heat for their penny-pinching ways and if you’ve been a reader of this column then you know that I have been a frequent critic of their ways of doing business way before most people ever heard of Bernie Madoff. Nonetheless I take pride in being tough but fair.

A story broke last week that a number of Mets players were paying out of their own pockets to take part in organized workouts at the team’s Port St. Lucie, Florida spring training facilities. Needless to say, the blogosphere quickly fired up with snarky comments about the Mets’ cheapness. A few columnists from the dailies even got in on the fun.

As easy as it would be for me to pile on Mets management, the truth is that they are being unfairly criticized here. Mets players can work out during the off-season at either Citi Field or at Tradition Field (St. Lucie) at no cost. If the Mets were to fund organized off-season workouts supervised by personal trainers then they would be in violation of Major League Baseball’s collective bargaining agreement with the MLB Players Association. The union could claim that the workouts were not truly voluntary in nature and infringe on the negotiated off-time of its rank and file.

If the workout story wasn’t enough, outgoing baseball commissioner Bud Selig served up red meat to Mets critics by announcing that team CEO Fred Wilpon would be heading MLB’s finance committee. Yes, you can insert your Bernie Madoff joke here. In fairness to Wilpon, he has financed many multi-million dollar real estate projects. One has to hope that he learned a few lessons from the Madoff debacle.

A far bigger concern to Mets fans should be the fact that the vastly talented Washington Nationals just added to their arsenal by signing 2013 American League Cy Young-winning pitcher Max Scherzer to along-term contract.

Granted, it’s been six years since the Mets have had a winning season so it may be premature to worry about winning the National League East title, but many Mets fans remember how even very good Mets teams futilely chased the Atlanta Braves in the 1990s and had to play for wild card berths. The Mets now appear to be looking up to the team from the nation’s capital for years to come. You can be sure that some of the Flushing faithful are probably missing the days when it was understood that George Steinbrenner would outbid everyone to sign a player of Scherzer’s caliber for the Yankees.

You can’t say that the Mets have neglected their outfield, at least its physical structure. They started moving in a good chunk of their fences during November and last week they announced that the centerfield scoreboard will be both enlarged and have more high definition resolution in 2015.

You can’t accuse Green Bay Packers QB Aaron Rodgers of trying to foolishly spin his team’s incredible collapse last Sunday in the National Football Conference championship game. They dominated the Seattle Seahawks for most of the afternoon and went into the 4th quarter with a 19-7 lead and yet wound up losing in overtime, 28-22. “This game will haunt me the rest of my career,” Rodgers somberly and accurately told the media after the game.

CBS will retain the Thursday night NFL package which is a joint venture with the NFL Network for 2015. The first eight games are shown on CBS while the remaining eight are televised on the NFL Network.

My guess is that CBS will have Thursday night NFL games for a long time to come. The league has clearly valued stability when it comes to primetime telecasts. ABC/ESPN has had the Monday night package since its inception in 1970 while NBC has always had the Sunday Night game.

Let’s here it for the Knicks who finally won their sixth game of the season on Martin Luther King Day this past Monday. They surprised the New Orleans Pelicans at Madison Square Garden by a score of 96-92. While it appeared to some that the Knicks wouldn’t win another game this season, the odds are that they won’t break the 1972-73 Philadelphia 76ers’ 9-73 mark as the worst in NBA history.

Former NBA commissioner David Stern was so concerned about the slovenly image of his league’s players that he tried to create a dress code. Times have certainly changed as many NBA players take as much in their threads as they do in their outside jump shots. Golden State Warriors superstar guard Stephen Curry is developing a clothing line for the retail chain Express. Houston Rockets All-Star forward James Harden is teaming up with GQ Magazine and Bloomingdale’s for a series of videos that will be shown in stores in which he talks about his favorite styles.

The last two weekends of January are when a lot of ski resorts in both New York State and Vermont offer heavily discounted packages. Vermont’s Lake Morey Resort will be offering tips on a different winter activity this weekend as instructors will be teaching guests about the Olympic ice sport of curling.

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