(Neil Miller/Sportsday Wire)
I have to admit that I jumped the gun when I criticized Mets ace pitcher Matt Harvey for drawing attention to himself by driving a Maserati into the players parking lot at the Mets Port St. Lucie spring training camp.
It turns out Harvey is a piker compared to his teammate, outfielder Yoenis Cespedes, who arrived in camp in a different customized six-figure sports car each day the first week. The cumulative value of his wheels easily exceeds $1million.
Few, if any, in the media questioned this needless display of ostentation. As I wrote last week, I have no objection with athletes earning as much as they can and being able to enjoy the fruits of their considerable talents.
On the other hand, big leaguers should realize that nobody is clamoring for a revival of either “Lifestyles of the Rick & Famous” or the old MTV show, “Pimp My Ride.”
Investing in fast cars doesn’t seem to be a very smart use of economic resources. They attract the attention of both law enforcement authorities and criminals. These cars are not built for safety so even a minor accident can have devastating consequences. Frankly, I am surprised that team owners don’t place riders in their contracts that forbid their athletes from driving these cars. It’s a well-known fact that contractual stipulations prevent many baseball players from skiing, skydiving. and partaking in pickup basketball games because of the risk of injury.
Yoenis is also placing needless pressure on himself to have an MVP season. Mets fans who may now be pleasantly amused by his vehicular bling may become quite grumpy if he struggles at the plate or in the field.
Major League Baseball Players Association executive director Tony Clark can’t be very happy with Cespedes acting like a full-fledged parvenu. The MLBPA’s collective bargaining agreement with Major League Baseball expires at the end of the 2016 season. The last thing that any union wants is for its members to be unsympathetically perceived in the court of public opinion with a big negotiation about to begin.
Turning to management, the media made Yankees chief operating officer Lonn Trost out to be the quintessential greedy sports executive when he made a comment implying that only the wealthy deserve to sit in the premium seats at Yankee Stadium.
My guess is what the impolitic Trost meant to get across was that it is common for corporate executives to bring clients to Yankees games as a way of establishing business relationships. They pay top dollar to the team for that privilege of sitting in the best seats. If you were trying to close a lucrative deal by taking someone to Yankee Stadium the last thing you would want is for some buffoon sitting behind you to be screaming epithets over a bad call or at an opposing player.
The Mets announced at Borough Hall last week that they would be holding a Gay Pride Night at Citi Field on Saturday night, August 13, when they take on the San Diego Padres. The Mets are the first local franchise of the big four sports (Major League Baseball, NFL, NBA, and NHL) to hold a night in honor of the gay and transgender community.
Reaching out to the LGBT community is not only the right thing to do from a humanistic viewpoint but from a strategic business one as well. The Chicago Cubs have held a Gay Pride Night since 2001 and the San Francisco Giants, Boston Red Sox, Tampa Bay Rays, Philadelphia Phillies, Los Angeles Dodgers, and Washington Nationals now hold one annually as well.
What has been lost over the announcement that the Mets are now officially entering the 21st century is that the WNBA’s New York Liberty have not only been holding Gay Pride Nights for years but they’ve always seen the LGBT community as an important consumer base. The Liberty and their WNBA rivals, the Connecticut Sun, have long been exhibitors at the 2016 LGBT Expo which takes place at the Javits Center next weekend. The WNBA’s willingness to work with gay groups before it became societally acceptable probably cost it a lot of coverage in the mainstream sports media since the league’s inception 20 years ago.
I spoke with former Knicks star and current Westchester Knicks general manager Allan Houston before Friday night’s Magic-Knicks game about Jimmer Fredette. Four years ago Jimmer was a highly touted college basketball player whose star burned out so quickly that he found himself out of the NBA and signed a contract with the Westchester Knicks of the NBA Development League to try to resurrect his career.
Houston quickly dashed the dreams of Knicks fans hoping that Fredette could do for them in 2016 what Jeremy Lin did for their team four years ago. “That was the perfect storm. We weren’t playing well and all of our guards were hurt. Jeremy was able to take advantage of a favorable situation for himself,” said Houston.
In honor of the recently concluded Black History Month current and former African-American and African-Canadian National Hockey League players were honored in a pair of recent documentaries last week, “Breaking The Ice” on MSG Network and “Soul On Ice” on the NHL Network. The latter was a clever reprise of the title of the 1968 Eldridge Cleaver best-seller.
Sean Marks, the Brooklyn Nets new general manager, is taking the attitude that sometimes you have to tear down before you can rebuild. In his first week on the job Marks bought out the contracts of center Andrea Bargnani and aging forward Joe Johnson who was a key acquisition of his predecessor, Billy King.
The Professional Golf Association had a table at last week’s Editor Showcase event that promoted healthy foods and other products to the media. The reason that two of their representatives flew up from the PGA’s Palm Beach Gardens headquarters to New York City last week was to promote the sport as a great way for everyone to get exercise. It’s no secret that the PGA is concerned about a decline in the number of recreational golfers in recent years.
Among the healthy snacks that were displayed by exhibitors at Editor Showcase was Yoplait’s Plenti which was Greek yogurt, oatmeal, and fruit pieces in an individual serving cup; Ocean Spray’s dried cranberry pieces that resemble raisins and thus the company calls them Craisins; and Dry Soda, a line of bottled soft drinks with interesting flavors such as cucumber and rhubarb while containing a fraction of the sugar of Coke or Pepsi.
If you want a little decadent fun and have the willpower not to consume a lot of it at once, Harry & David’s Moose Munch, which is popcorn with sweet caramel and chocolate coatings, is a good snack option.