Mets fans finally exhaled when their team reached a three-year, $75 million deal with outfielder Yoenis Cespedes just before Snowstorm Jonas got here. Cespedes does the right however to opt out of his contract at the end of the 2016 season.
While the Mets are a stronger team with a healthy Cespedes, the Cuban slugger comes with his share of liabilities. He is very streaky as Mets fans discovered once the post-season began and his bat turned into a pumpkin. He also can be too nonchalant at times. If a catcher drops a third strike he will head back to the dugout instead of forcing a throw to first base. I was also troubled how he took his sweet time retrieving a ball that he booted in centerfield during Game 1 of the World Series.
Cespedes cited the atmosphere in the Mets clubhouse as a key factor in his willingness to compromise with the Mets while leaving a more lucrative and guaranteed deal on the table with the Washington Nationals. His fond feelings towards his teammates may be the work of pitcher Noah Syndergaard who took it upon himself to have a company produce “Yo Knows Baseball!” T-shirts and distribute them to his teammates in September.
The conventional wisdom was that the Mets would not be re-signing Cespedes because they did not want to sign him to a long-term contract regardless of cost. And since we are talking about the Mets, cost is always paramount.
For most of the off-season little was reported about Cespedes and the Mets until our own Rich Mancuso broke the story last week that Yoenis’s management team had approached Mets executives with an offer that they felt would be worthy of their consideration and that the Mets responded in a quick and positive manner. Not surprisingly, the bigger media outlets quickly jumped on the story but did not give Mancuso any credit. Congratulations, Rich, on getting the scoop.
Aside from getting back Yoenis Cespedes the Mets also upgraded their bullpen by adding free agent lefty Antonio Bastardo. If fellow southpaw Jerry Blevins can pitch like he did before getting pelted with a line drive that basically finished his 2015 campaign, the Mets will have greatly improved a glaring weak spot.
In a final bit of good news for Mets fans, the team’s cable television outlet, SNY, announced that they had re-signed longtime analyst and the greatest first baseman in Mets history, Keith Hernandez to a four-year contract.
The Yankees received good news when the Miami-Dade DA’s office decided not to present charges against Aroldis Chapman after his arrest on a domestic violence charge. It will be interesting to see how Yankees manager Joe Girardi will utilize Dellin Betances, Andrew Miller, and Chapman out of the bullpen.
The annual Baseball Writers Association of America dinner had the misfortune of being scheduled for this past Saturday evening when Winter Storm Jonas was in the midst of dropping over 25 inches of snow on our area. The BBWAA canceled the event for the public but they still held a small private affair since many of the honorees arrived on Friday.
Mets manager Terry Collins proved to be a trouper by taking the subway from his apartment in Long Island City while general manager Sandy Alderson walked to the New York Hilton from his Manhattan apartment.
Mets ace pitcher Matt Harvey took some good-natured grief from Alderson when he failed to show up. “I guess that all of the flights from SoHo were cancelled,” Sandy quipped. Actually Harvey was following the directives given to the public by both Governor Cuomo and Mayor De Blasio to stay off of the streets unless it was absolutely necessary.
WFAN afternoon drive time host Mike Francesa told Fox Sports 1’s “Garbage Time” host Katie Nolan, that he will leave the FAN at the end of 2017 when his contract expires. I wouldn’t take that as gospel however. W FAN survived the departure of Don Imus in 2007 after his unfortunate joke about the Rutgers women’s basketball team that year. They’ve actually done better ratings-wsie since when they replaced the I-Man with Boomer Esiason and Craig Carton.
Speaking of retirements, boxer Manny Pacquiao claims that his April 9th fight with Timothy Bradley at the MGM Grand Las Vegas will be his last. He did not sound very convincing however. You can bet that if Floyd Mayweather offers him a rematch, and the gazillions that would come with it, then he would seize that opportunity in a heartbeat.
Pacquiao’s promoter, Bob Arum, got a bit political during a late January press conference at the Theater at Madison Square Garden to promote the fight. First he attacked Donald Trump for his stance on immigration. Later on he urged Wall Street types to come to Las Vegas and watch the fight because Bernie Sanders is going to break up their firms and tax them at a 90% marginal tax rate if he’s elected so they might as well enjoy themselves now.
Noah Rubin, whose dad is from Queens and who grew up next door in Nassau County, won his first-ever Grand Slam tennis match when he upset Benoit Paire in the first round of the Australian Open. Unfortunately Pierre-Hugues Herbert knocked him out two days later. At least Noah can have the satisfaction of knowing that he won more prize money from “down under” this year than Rafael Nadal did since Rafa got bounced in the first round of the Open.
In soccer news, the New York City Football Club made a good selection in hiring former English Premier League star Patrick Vieira to succeed Jason Kreis as manager of that Major League Soccer franchise which plays its home games at Yankee Stadium. Hopefully Vieira will do a better job at making sure that NYCFC doesn’t cough up late goals this season the way that they did last.
The annual Association of Performing Arts Presenters is the largest trade show of entertainers of all categories who perform before an audience and it’s held every January in New York City. One performer with an unusual background who took a booth at the show this year was Yanouv Kerner who is a boxer turned virtuoso flutist. Actress Rita Moreno was APAP’s keynote speaker.
The late Eagles guitarist Glenn Frey was a big sports fan who enjoyed sitting courtside at Knicks games with team owner James Dolan. He also broadcast an inning of a Dodgers game with Vin Scully.
Major League Baseball has teamed up with the Prostate Cancer Foundation for the last twenty years to raise funds for that organization whose mission is to fund research to help eradicate this disease that has attacked one in seven men with its “Keep dad in the game” campaign. MLB makes a sizable contribution based on the number of home runs hit in the week leading up to Father’s Day. Traditionally MLB’s donation has exceeded $2 million.
Clothing retailer Lands End is helping the Prostate Cancer Foundation during baseball’s off-season with its Blue Pinpoint Oxford campaign. The company will donate 10% of all sales of its popular Blue Pinpoint Oxford shirt between now and February 13 to the PCF.
It should be noted that prostate cancer is one of the most treatable cancers if it is detected early.