(Neil Miller / Sportsday Wire)
Last week, I criticized Mets slugger Yoenis Cespedes, who makes $25 million annually, for his ostentatious ways. On the flip side of the baseball economic scale, Mets pitcher Jacob deGrom had his contract for 2016 renewed by the team for the minimum amount of money allowed by the current collective bargaining agreement after he refused to sign it.
Earning $607,000 is not exactly chump change but it is certainly a lot less than deGrom, whose first two seasons have been terrific, deserves given the industry in which he works. This is another case of the Mets being penny-wise and pound-foolish.
Unlike Matt Harvey, deGrom has been vocal about his desire to sign a long-term contract with the Mets. By playing hardball with him now, the Mets may be setting themselves up for problems down the road with the 2014 National League Rookie of the Year.
It seemed as if everyone mocked ex-Mets reliever Jenrry Mejia after Major League Baseball claimed that he tested for steroids for the third time and thus leading to a lifetime ban. Mejia claims that he was threatened by MLB when he wanted to challenge the second time that he tested positive last summer. He also claims that his union turned a blind eye to his situation.
Yes, it’s easy to dismiss Mejia’s statements as desperate sour grapes. Then again it’s possible that he was strong-armed last summer and did not get the due process to which he was entitled. Even worse, let’s suppose that Mejia is right and that there were some overzealous Major League Baseball officials who wanted to make an example of him and that his union, the Major League Baseball Players Association, did not want to spend resources on his behalf.
MLB should offer a course on performance enhancing drugs to players who test positive on their first test that is similar to a defensive driver class. Those who would take the course would their suspensions reduced. In this way players are educated and that should drop the rate of recidivism.
Shannon Forde, who worked for the Mets public relations department since graduating from St. John’s University in 1994, was one of the bravest individuals who I have ever met. In her four-year battle with breast cancer, most of it at the Stage 4 level, Shannon remained steadfastly upbeat and until last summer was a constant presence around the Citi Field press box. A great aspect of the Mets making it to the World Series last fall was seeing Shannon moderating press conferences. The announcement of her passing last Friday night hit all of us who have covered the Mets like a ton of bricks even though deep down we knew that this day was coming.
“I like your column but there aren’t enough quotes,” she once told me. Duly noted, Shannon. Mets games won’t be the same without you.
USA Today Sports Weekly columnist and longtime passionate Mets fan Howard Megdal has written his first book, The Cardinals Way (St. Martins Press). Megdal was able to get the cooperation of Cardinals executives from the recent past as well as the present to find out why that Midwestern team rarely finishes below .500 even in their worst years. If you liked Michael Lewis’ s Moneyball, then you should enjoy this book as well.
The Yankees got off fairly lucky when MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred handed down just a 30-game suspension to newly acquired closer Aroldis Chapman for being the aggressor in a domestic violence incident. Chapman will be fresher down the stretch by not taxing his arm in April. The Bronx Bombers can easily get by with Andrew Miller and Dellin Betances in the bullpen.
The press room at Arthur Ashe Tennis Stadium during the US Open won’t be the same without the late Bud Collins who passed away two weeks ago at age 86. Collins was practically synonymous with the sport but he was no shill. When the United States Tennis Association wanted to encourage young players to turn pro instead of playing tennis at the college level and getting an education to boot, Bud told me that the notion was disgusting.
Bud would be happy to know that a place he spent a lot of time in, Forest Hills Tennis Stadium, which has long been threatened with a developer’s wrecking ball, is still going strong. In addition to once again hosting concerts this summer, World Team Tennis, will be taking place there from July 30th to August 13th. Andy Roddick will be the star attraction for the New York Empire.
I thought that it was actually pretty funny that Carmelo Anthony told a heckler to go over to team owner James Dolan and ask for a refund as the Knicks were in the process of dropping another one last week. Anthony has always had a quick wit.
Melo is working with Nickelodeon on a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles apparel and accessories line and will have a cameo in the TMNT film that hits theaters this summer. Nickelodeon executives also announced at their Upfront that New England Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski will host “Crashletes,” which appears to be “America’s Funniest Home Videos” meets failures on the athletic field and in the stands. Carolina Panthers QB Cam Newton will host “All In,” where kids get to work with mentors on accomplishing their dream.
Cable’s CMT will have a three-part special on NASCAR this summer titled “The Rise Of American Speed.” Another show, “Dude Perfect,” features five guys who know how to make trick shots in a variety of sports and it will feature guest appearances from Chris Paul, Aaron Rodgers, and Dale Earnhardt, Jr.
Comcast’s Esquire Network will shift the location of its popular peewee football series, “Friday Night Tykes,” from Texas to western Pennsylvania. The series began its new season this week.