“This is the third time that we have acquired Yoenis in the last seventeen months. It appears that two legal separations have only strengthened the marriage!” Mets general manager Sandy Alderson cleverly stated in his opening remarks at last Wednesday’s Citi Field press conference announcing that the Mets had re-signed slugging outfielder Yoenis Cespedes to a four-year, $110 million contract.
This year’s negotiations with Cespedes did not have the Sturm and Drang for Mets fans that last year’s did. At the end of 2015 the conventional wisdom was that the Mets would not pony up for a long-term deal with him and that other teams would pounce for his services. The marketplace was not as favorable as Cespedes or his agents were hoping and he signed a three-year, $75 million deal with the Mets that gave him an opt-out clause after the 2016 season.
While the deal that he signed with the Mets last year did offer security for Cespedes, it did have risks as well, particularly if he wanted a long-term contract that would probably take him to the end of his career. He knew that he would have to produce in 2016.
In spite of some leg injuries, Yoenis had a very good year, and elected to try free agency again. This time though he truly wanted to stay with the Mets and the feeling was mutual and thus the drama was minimal.
While Mets management is rightfully being applauded by their fans for digging deep into their pockets for him, Yoenis Cespedes does have liabilities. Like all power hitters, he strikes out a lot. Cespedes, in spite of having received a Gold Glove Award, has shown a tendency to be a little too nonchalant in the outfield as he has dropped fly balls trying to catch them with one hand as well as taking his time retrieving balls that he has booted in the outfield as Mets fans unfortunately witnessed in the 2015 World Series.
It will be interesting to see whether Cespedes will assume the role of mentor and leader in the Mets clubhouse for Hispanic players that Bartolo Colon had been. Colon recently signed a lucrative free agent with the Atlanta Braves so there is a void that needs to be filled.
Yoenis was born in Cuba in 1985 and attended a state-run academy where he concentrated on baseball. He was the starting centerfielder on the 2009 Cuban team that played in the World Baseball Classic that year. He defected in the summer of 2011 by escaping to the Dominican Republic and in 2012 he signed a four-year, $36 million contract with the Oakland Athletics.
Cespedes was asked about the death of Fidel Castro which occurred a few days earlier. Since he still has family in Cuba, where Fidel’s brother Raul rules with an iron fist, he understandably declined to comment.
On the day that the Mets announced their signing of Yoenis Cespedes, the team made another deal which got scant attention. They dealt pitcher Logan Verrett to the Baltimore Orioles for cash considerations. There was no word as to how much cash the Mets had to fork over to the Orioles to take the awful Verrett off of their hands.
The Brooklyn Nets are not going to have a good record this year but they are fun to watch. It is clear that they are playing hard for new head coach Kenny Atkinson.
A good case in point was last Tuesday night at Barclays Center when they were taking on one of the NBA’s best teams, the Los Angeles Clippers and found themselves down, not unexpectedly, 18 points in the third quarter. Rather than fold their tent, the Nets battled back and won the game in double overtime to snap a seven-game losing streak.
During that game Clippers guard Paul Pierce, who is certain to be a member of the Basketball Hall of Fame, missed a showboating slam dunk as the ball caromed off the iron and into the stands. Pierce pretended to faint as he hit the floor while his backcourt mate, Chris Paul, pantomimed giving him CPR. It was a funny bit right out of the Harlem Globetrotters playbook but it showed that the Clippers were treating the Nets as if they were the Trotters’ hapless patsies, the Washington Generals.
I spoke with former Knicks guard and arguably the best three-point shooter in their history, Steve Novak, about the Clippers’ comedy bit when his current team, the Milwaukee Bucks, came into town two days later to play the Nets. “I saw it and it was disrespectful. That missed two points cost them and I am glad that it did.”
Steve has always been one the NBA’s good guys and that is one reason that he is now in his eleventh year in the league. He still follows the Knicks and calls his time at Madison Square Garden the most enjoyable of his career. Novak made it clear that he would love to return to New York.
Professional players in any sport tend to act blase whenever they return to their hometown as a member of the visiting team. That certainly was not the case with Nets rookie guard Yogi Ferrell who grew up in Indianapolis. He told me that he circled the date well ahead of time when the Nets would be playing the Pacers at the Bankers Life Field House in Indy. Nets head coach Kenny Atkinson showed class in giving the reserve guard lots of playing time that night and he performed well. Pacers fans, many of whom followed his high school career and his four years at Indiana University, showed a lot of class in cheering for him even when he was scoring and making good plays against their team that night.
It’s no secret that this has not been a good year for NFL television ratings which until now were thought to have a high inelastic demand. There have been a lot of reasons for this ranging from a surplus of nationally televised games thanks to the NFL’s Thursday night package combined with more Sunday morning games being played in London to mediocre play all around.
One of television’s legendary ad sales executives, Discovery Networks’ Joe Abruzzese, blames the NFL Network’s Red Zone which shows when teams are about to score. “Red Zone has shrunk the attention span of football fans. Why watch the game when you can see the stuff that really counts as it happens on Red Zone? They don’t even show commercials so the NFL is really hurting itself,” he told me last week.
The NFL is so powerful and important to its network television partners that the network TV executives are afraid to complain to the league about their commercial-free competitor according to Abruzzese. Joe said that he told NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell his thoughts on the matter since he has known him from his days of running the ad sales department of CBS. Of course it should be pointed out that Discovery doesn’t have broadcast rights to the NFL.
Last week was a big one for former WWE grappler turned movie star, Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson as he was featured on the covers of both Sports Illustrated as well as People where he was named “Sexiest Man Alive for 2016.”
Johnson should get the James Brown Award for being the hardest-working man in show business because in addition to cranking out lots of movies every year he stars in HBO’s most popular weekly series, “Ballers.” Next up for Dwayne is a Bob Hope-style holiday special, “Rock The Troops,” that will be shown on Spike.
One of the down sides of getting old is that our muscles and other tissues tend to ache more frequently. A new company, M Cushion, has created a Shiatsu massage pillow that has seven-inch deep memory foam that surrounds a potent massager and is designed to work on all muscles albeit the neck/shoulders area is the easiest one to reach. There is a heating option to further reduce muscular discomfort. Unlike most previous pillow massaging devices, M Cushion’s has a stylish decorative exterior so that it can stay on your couch or bed without it being an eyesore. For more information, log onto mcushion.com
Jack Black (no relation to the comic actor of “School of Rock” fame) was one of the first companies to market skin care products to men. They also have a good sense of humor as their new line of sticks to alleviate winter chapped lips is cleverly called “The Balm Squad.”
In a similar vein, a new company, Beardpaw, has created alcohol-free wipes that remove food particles and other debris from beards and mustaches. It shouldn’t be confused with Bearpaw which manufactures premium ski apparel and general purpose winter outerwear.
My guess is that Beardpaw took its name as a humorous play on Bearpaw’s name. Hopefully there won’t be an exchange of lawyer letters.
Another startup, Sailo, hopes to be the Airbnb of the vessel world, as it serves as a clearinghouse for those who want to rent boats for fishing or for aquatic sightseeing and entertaining. The allure of renting full-service charters in glamorous ports of call is reflected in the popularity of Bravo’s reality series, “Below Deck.”