Random Stuff; LinkedIn, Dodgers vs. FOX and Sanchez

LA Herald Examiner Sports Editor/Columnist Allan Mallamud

I guess I am guilty of short attention span….or ADD….but here goes some recent thoughts…and please, don’t say I read like Larry King….I would be honored to be compared to the late Allan Malamud, and his column “Notes on a Scorecard” who I met years ago at the late LA Herald Examiner….

What’s up with LinkedIn...I mean really….how many people have asked you to join their network that you have never heard of…let alone ever met?  Does anyone really think that an “introduction” from me to someone they don’t know is going to be helpful? I have only recently begun to reject these LinkedIn requests from those I do not know….and I think I’m probably not alone as a “member” who doesn’t really know what to do now that I am in…..and in the end it portends to a healthy drop in their stock price after the lofty rise post IPO……at least until  they figure out how to provide a REAL service to those who have registered. For now Wall Street, count me as an uniterested “member” of LinkedIn and factor that into the valuation.

Help me out with this….FOX has the exclusive rights to renegotiating their television deal with the Los Angeles Dodgers until November 2012, 45 days after their current deal ends. Yet, lame ass Dodger owner Frank McCourt is suing FOX  because the Dodgers want to negotiate their coming rights in the open market in advance of the current agreement date…Because he is selling the team due to his bankruptcy and he wants to have as much as possible in place to draw a huge sales price.  What gives? He has a deal with FOX. He ruins his business and admits screwing up, declares bankruptcy, and all contracts are void? So if I am Clayton Kershaw, and I had a great year on the mound, winning the NL Cy Young, can I validate my contract with the Dodgers too?  I don’t get it….

Are we finally seeing the real Mark Sanchez? I have to say, I feel sorry for the guy.  The Jets have had so much success since he was drafted…and unfortunately for him, the NY press gave Sanchez WAY TOO MUCH CREDIT.  Football is a huge team game. Yes, a talented QB can make a significant difference (Tom Brady anyone…Peyton Manning?),  but he is NOT the only guy on the field. Sanchez is still a pup…give him some time  before anointing him the next Joe Willie….

Just sayin’

TACO’S LAST BITE
WFAN/YES Network’s Mike Francesa is killin’ it daily with his work regarding Penn State travesty and cover up. Check him out…..M-F from 1p to 6p…on TV or the net.

Posted in Balleehoo, Baseball, Dodgers, FOX, Frank McCourt, Jets, Mark Sanchez | Tagged , , , , , | 1 Comment

The LA Times Says it best

Well, its a bit lazy, I’ll admit….but keeping track of my favorite owner, Frank McCourt, and his courtroom antics AINT EASY. 

Enjoy…..

Trying to follow the byzantine trail of Frank McCourt’s lawsuits

September 28, 2011 | 12:38 pm
  

 
I need a scorecard.

Really, how can anyone keep track of all the courtroom drama Frank McCourt is currently slogging through? How can McCourt? This guy is involved in so many lawsuits, he should have married an attorney.

Let’s see, where to begin?

— The divorce.

That would be the never-ending divorce. This will mark the third consecutive year the Dodgers will march into the off-season with unsettled ownership.

Frank and Jamie McCourt have been at this for two years and about the only thing they’ve agreed upon is to sell one of their eight mansions. It’s an odds on favorite to go down as the most expensive divorce in California history.

And their divorce, of course, begat:

— Legal actions involving his old law firm.

In an odd preemptive move, the law firm he used to draw up that curious, failed marital property agreement sued him. Frank lost his suit against Jamie on this one (though he’s threatened an appeal), and then fired Bingham McCutchen. Which subsequently tried to sue him. The court wouldn’t go for it.

Now each side awaits the divorce settlement before Frank sues Bingham McCutchen. He’s so sure of victory, he used the future settlement as collateral in a personal $30-million loan from Foxin the spring.– Bankruptcy.

Frank McCourt’s permanent legacy -– the man who drove the Dodgers into bankruptcy. Somehow it still seems hard to believe.

This is the big one. Major League Baseball has been made the opponent and has asked the court to put the Dodgers up for sale. McCourt has asked the court to allow him to auction off the team’s TV rights package to save his broke butt.

— Fox.

Fox now accuses the Dodgers of violating their existing TV agreement, which is still good for another two years and gives it exclusive negotiating rights starting a year from now.

These are big-boy lawsuits.

— The Bryan Stow family.

They’re suing for an unspecified amount for the beating of Stow on opening day, alleging cutbacks in security and antiquated lighting at Dodger Stadium contributed to his beating. Stow has brain damage and has only begun to speak.

— The great hairstylist fiasco.

One of the sillier though revealing bits of information to come out of the divorce proceedings was that the couple had a hairdresser on a $300-a-day retainer to come by whatever mansion they were hanging out at and make their curls look beautiful.

Only, the hairdresser, David Mackey, claimed he was owed $18,000 by the couple and sued last April. Not sure what’s happened to his one. There could be plenty of lawsuits such as this out there we’re just not aware of.

The McCourts are also reportedly under investigation by the IRS and had to settle with the state attorney general’s office for paying Howard Sunkin more than $400,000 in salary out of a team charity.

The overall amount of attorney’s fees has to just be staggering. It’s already been estimated the divorce alone will cost close to $35 million in legal fees.

With all the money spent on lawyers, they could almost buy a baseball team. Like that would ever happen.

Posted in Baseball, Dodgers, Frank McCourt | Tagged , | Leave a comment

Who’s Mess is Bigger…the Mets or the Dodgers?

Frank and Jamie...Goin' Hollywood

Alright….you are correct…it’s been more than a while since I posted.  A serious case of writer’s block…

I haven’t been totally asleep…..I’ve watched the Mets mess…with David Einhorn jumping forward to make what seems like a creative investment…and way….for him to eventually control the club once the Wilpon/Katz team falls under the Irving Picard sword.  You will recall they are being sued for $1.0 billion by the Trustee of the Madoff account for “profits” they “knowingly” took and invested in other businesses tied to Madoff’s Ponzi scheme. 

Einhorn’s actions, in my opinion,  seem to point toward gaining eventual control.  Einhorn hasn’t called for Jeff Wilpon’s head as a condition of investing $200 million in the business….because he knows Daddy’s Boy is inept and that Jeffie’s failures as President, COO increase the odds that the Mets operations continue to lose big money and fail to meet their multiple financial obligations.  

I also think that Einhorn will sit idly by as the Wilpons push Sandy Alderson to decimate the roster, and save real cash, by first trading Carlos Beltran and Frankie Rodriguez and then letting fan favorite Jose Reyes escape CitiField through free agency.  All three are having great seasons…but they are also a significant part of the Mets payroll….and their movement out of Met uniforms, particularly Reyes, will cause further fan anger and result in further attendance declines.  And that all plays into Einhorn’s hand. 

The Mets are a mess, for sure, but a quiet one when compared to what’s happening out West.  I’ve also been keeping an eye on the Dodgers….my favorite middle age adult team.

Let me say this…Dodger owners Frank and Jamie McCourt are disasters. Their very public divorce proceedings pointed out to all of Los Angeles how greedy the couple has been since purchasing the team in 2004.   They always promised to continue investing in the club payroll as a means of justifying severe increases in ticket prices and parking, but when the divorce testimony smoke cleared, the facts pointed otherwise. The McCourts had re-directed over $100 million dollars from Dodger finances to fund an over-the-top lifestyle that included 7 luxurious, multi-million dollar homes while also borrowing heavily to eventually sink the Dodgers into far deeper debt over time.

Frank’s cash flow demands to meet payments have become severe and he has been forced to reach outside the organization for more money.  He has tried a few things to date with little success….but has found a willing “bank” if you will at FOX….owners of two LA regional sports cable channels that need his programming to fill hours and drive subscription and ad revenues.  In fact FOX’s needs have become more severe since Time Warner announced their plans to create their own local sports cable service after securing rights to the Lakers for 20 some odd years.

The challenges and acrimony has become so loud, between Frank and Jamie as well as between Dodger fans and management, that Commissioner Selig has been forced to get involved. 

Frank has negotiated a 20 year local cable tv deal with FOX he has valued as high as $3.0 billion that offers plenty of cash and equity in the channel, including an advanced payment of $285 million to help meet his cash flow needs.  

He just needs approval for the deal from the Commissioner’s office and all his troubles will be behind him, he says.  But there is the rub…..Selig has said he would not consider approving the Fox deal until he receives the results of an investigation into the Dodgers’ finances, which officials hope to complete this month.  Selig is concerned that McCourt will use the upfront $285 million in FOX money to settle his divorce instead of using it to cover Dodger related expenses. 

McCourt has assured Selig he would not use any of the $285 million Fox would immediately pay toward a divorce settlement.  But without approval of the Fox contract, it is unclear how McCourt could finance his very public divorce settlement from wife Jamie, who claims half-ownership of the club, without selling the Dodgers. 

Jamie has placed herself squarely into this entire issue, reserving the right as half owner to object to the Fox contract, prompting Fox to tell  McCourt he has no deal unless the company can be assured she would not challenge it.

In the absence of a divorce settlement, Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Scott Gordon is set to hear two motions June 22. Frank McCourt has asked Gordon to rule that Jamie has no say in the television deal; Jamie McCourt has asked the judge to order the immediate sale of the Dodgers.

While all this plays out, McCourt has struggled to make his last three payrolls…..and should he miss just one, forcing the Commissioner’s office to cover it, he can be forced to sell the team. 

Back in May, McCourt secured a last-minute personal loan from FOX, guaranteed against no collateral, that allowed him to make mid-May…and then an early payment discount to Dodger sponsors delivered cash to cover needs at the end of May and mid-June.   The tab due at the end of June jumps to $30 million and inside Dodger sources say he has little chance to meet it.  Part of the $30 million is due to deferred contracts on several players, including $8 million to Manny Ramirez.  

Frank’s been very crafty in coming up with money, I’ll give him that….and I can see a scenario where he offers Manny, and others, extra cash if they postpone payment for a few months.

If he is successful once again in meeting salaries, this thing will get really loud and ugly. Dodger fans will never back a team owned by Frank McCourt….they are furious about all the money he and Jamie took out of the team for their own personal lifestyles…..and fans feel as though the McCourts have treated them like fools. 

Fans have called for a boycott of Dodger home games and their attendance is off 17% so far this season….interestingly, Dodger declines account for 84% of the total attendance decline in MLB this season to date.

Selig has, in my opinion, very little choice here but to find a way to stall his investigation and see that McCourt is banished.  Dodger fans demand it.  But McCourt will continue juggling his finances to stay afloat.  And then things will get really ugly.

Frank McCourt has built his empire in the courtroom through lawsuits and at the banks through leverage and loans.  This whole mess will get much more complicated before it gets better and will provide great theater.

I guess, in the end, I vote the Biggest Mess title goes to the Dodgers.  You?

THE LAST BITE

The Ohio State saga continues as more past players come forward and expose cash payments made to them over the years for memorabilia. When this is over, I can see University President Gordon Gee and Athletic Director Gene Smith leaving their posts right along with Jim Tressel. And the NCAA will slap some serious sanctions on the Buckeye program.  Maybe now, finally, Michigan can win a game or two in the big rivalry as the state’s best football players leave Columbus for other programs.

Posted in Baseball, NY Mets, Uncategorized, Wilpon/Katz | Tagged , , , , , | 6 Comments

Opines of a Frustrated Yankee Fan 1/4 Through the Season

By Guest Blogger Richie Graeber

My Yankees have shown their moments of greatness despite an inconsisitentcy in smart and defensive baseball – things that can, and should, work themselves out. But perhaps Posada (throw him a 3rd strike below the knees and he is an instant K) and Swisher (what’s with this Ruthian swing when he’s not even making contact?) will not get out of their funks.

On the mound, its Bye-Bye Joba….and where has the 2010 Logan gone? AJ Burnett??? I don’t even know where to start.  Sabathia is pitching well as expected, but MO isn’t the same “shut down “guy he’s been but is still a great one! Burnett, Garcia, & Nova need to get us into the 7th or 8th inning before falling apart – though Colon has been the biggest surprise & I think Nova has been adequate overall! Noesi might be some one to keep around instead of jerking him up and down to S/WB.   Robertson reminds me of Wetteland in ’96……first he gets into trouble, then he gets himself out of trouble….. but I really do like him out there. What has Logan done for us lately? The two free agent relief pitchers we signed this winter…..just an increase against the medical budget along with Colon and Sanit.   

Behind the plate….you thought we saw a  multitude of  visits to the pitching mound, passed balls and Stolen bases last year?!  Maybe its time for Posada to throw on the protective gear again and squat down behind the plate???  As long as they pick and choose slow teams to play him against.

I like Jeter at lead off (but DPs are still the opposition’s best defense when he’s up with runner on 1st) Granderson is doing great but I’ve noticed the Ks are mounting, Tex is doing OK, ARod is doing OK, Cano is sub-Cano, Gardner forgot how to run bases (can someone do that?) and is not a starting outfielder if he can’t run. Is Martin’s stiff back an aberration or a sign of things to come?

I am concerned about our bench depth…or lack there of…..Has Andruw Jones just disappeared??? Perhaps he needs more playing time but I’d rather see Dickerson and even Golson get a chance – I really like them. Give some other youngsters in the minors, Montero and Vasquez maybe, a chance as well.

The Red Sox are playing red hot (9 straight wins as of this writing) and though this current tear may not continue they can be expected to perform well the rest of the season. In a previous blog, I stated that the Yankees are NOT the chasers in this pennant race (effective June 13th……perhaps they are!! 🙂 ! The Sawx are certainly a team to be reckoned with – no doubt. I have been shocked at Beckett’s success so far this season as I clearly thought his best days were behind him.   

Yankees still have horses to make a good pennant push especially as some Boston injuries occur as with all teams, but Rays and Toronto will keep the heat on at least for while too. Just remember in 2009 the Yankees lost the first 9 games to Red Sox and came out OK that year!!!!

One last thing that has seemed noteworthy of late….all the hit batsmen….are American League pitchers trying to get into Tex’s head (along with a few others) with all this HBP going on? Pretty bush league if so. But with 18HRs I don’t think Tex is biting…Remember too, its the dog days of summer, July (after All-Star break), August and September, when teams show their mettle. Yanks need to straighten out their pitching inconsistencies.  Get Cano on track and Gardner needs to get his head back on the basepaths. 

A few carefully thrown pitches at Ortiz to make him “cry” – the big baby (even walk him unintentionally), effectively putting him on first  and not allowing HRs & huge timely hits is a definite advantage – I think he’s killing us as he did in 2004-2007!!

MY final opinion is simply this….. Yanks are in this pennant race and will be UNTIL MATHEMATICALLY ELIMINATED!! My mantra this year, and EVERY year,  until the very end!!

LET”S GO YANKEES!!!!

Richie Graeber is a true Yankee, dangerously living amongst the rebels in Louisiana.

THE LAST BITE

What a surprise….after earning anywhere from $40 to $60 thousand dollars in his college career selling memorabilia, and getting caught, Tyrell Pryor is leaving Ohio State one year early to enter the NFL supplemental draft, whenever that is…. Oh, and he has hired Drew Rosenhaus (yes, the same guy who has famously guided the Tyrell Owens circus) as his agent.  And by leaving early, he does not have to assist the NCAA in their fact finding mission (although that is a hit or miss proposition every time anyway…see Cam Newton).

Posted in Baseball, NY Yankees, Ohio State University, Richie Graeber, Tyrell Pryor, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , | 2 Comments

Situation Wanted: Interest in 2011 MLB Season…Apply Here

 

The Final Four are set. The Masters is less than two weeks away.  The Knicks have eight games left before they get rocked in the first round and come to grips with playing for next year.

That means that Major League Baseball is just around the corner…and I can’t seem to get fired up about it.  The season opens this year on Thursday, March 31st…I  believe the earliest start date ever.  The winter-like temps that fans and players will have to endure (snow is in the forecast for the Yankee home opener) is being done strictly for economics…of course.  MLB will in all likelihood add two more teams to the post season in 2012, meaning an extra round of play-off games and MORE MONEY in the fat and in some cases overextended owner’s pockets. Whatever.

I used to be a huge baseball fan but my interest has declined steadily over time.  Interesting because baseball is an old timer’s game…and I am 7 months away from fitting into the 55+ demographic.  In theory, I should be one of those guys camped in the lounge chair falling asleep to the nightly cable coverage, right? I mean, if you like baseball, you can find a game to watch any night or day of the season.  Not me.

For more than 30 years, my team has been the Cleveland Indians. Loveable Losers in the city often called “The Mistake on the Lake”, my Tribe  is a small market club that has come upon hard times. Boy, are they hard to root for. Talk about breaking your heart, day after day, night after night, year after year. Oh, we had our heyday. The 90’s version of the Tribe, built by GM John Hart, saw the club reach the World Series in 1995, the first time in 41 years….only to go down to the pitching stacked Atlanta Braves in 6 games….5 of which were decided by just one run.  In 1997, we returned to the title series, only to lose in the 11th inning of the 7th game to the Fish….the Florida Marlins. Heartbreaking. Those teams had a true mix of young and experienced talent…..with Carlos Baerga, Ozzie Vizquel, Jim Thome, Albert Belle, a young Manny Ramirez, Sandy Alomar, Matt Williams and Kenny Lofton in the field….partnered with Charles Nagy, Orel Hersheiser among others, on the mound. Those were great seasons and fun times but my interest now is purely emotional….let’s face it (sorry Boz), they really have no chance at even sniffing the post season today. 

I think the apex of my MLB interest was 2004.  I was living in Los Angeles at the time and not working….talk about living the life! I had adopted the Dodgers as my team. Earlier that year, FOX sold the club to Frank and Jamie McCourt and the sale created a whole new level of optimism and excitement (if only Los Angelenos knew then what was in store!).  To this day, I believe there is no finer ballpark in the country than Chavez Ravine.  Its beautiful when empty….and beautiful when full. Great tickets were easy to come by thanks to well connected, generous friends and my own corporate connections. On those nights when you decided to go last minute, upper level seats with great views weren’t just available, they were reasonably priced and the crowd was respectful and knowledgable. I took my two kids many nights and never cringed at things others in crowd said or did.  Dodger games were clearly delightful.

That 2004 Dodger team was full of characters who achieved greatness when they needed it, winning the division for the first time in a long time.  My boy Whitey secured a luxury suite the night closer Eric Gagne set the record for consecutive saves when he notched number 84 late that season (Gagne was eventually named in the Mitchell Report as an HGH user whose career essentially ended due to “multiple injuries” in 2005).  Third baseman Adrian Beltre, in the walk year of his Dodger contract,  lived up to his name by Belting multiple clutch doubles and dingers in the September stretch drive. Re-tread starter Jose Lima, rescued off the Kansas City Royals scrap heap in spring training, gave fans mound antics that reminded me of Mark “The Bird” Fydrich and entertained us with “Lima Time” every fifth day. Nothing but fun.

While the Dodgers got taken to the cleaners in the first round of the post-season, the American League play-offs were nothing short of thrilling. The Yankee/Red Sox rivalry took center stage as the Sox came back from an 0-3 ALCS deficit to sweep the final four games and go on to their first World Series title since 1928, with another sweep, this time of the St. Louis Cardinals.

Since primetime games begin and end at a reasonable hour on the West Coast, I found myself glued to the entire Red Sox/Yankee and then Red Sox/Cardinals series….not just me but my entire little family to boot.  The Red Sox team was colorful and talented and immensly fun to root for…and that’s some statement from a guy who grew up in New York.  And root for them we did!

I returnded to NY in 2005 and that signalled the beginning of the end.  I tried to follow the Dodgers….but the daily NY Times never had the box scores of late night West Coast games.  I actually bought the MLB Extra Innings package from Cablevision, thinking I would be able to watch them play on any given night but once again, the time difference did me in. I just couldn’t stay awake and after about one month, gave up trying.  Its downright dangerous to be a Red Sox fan around here. If you like living and you like the Sox, you better lay low. I’ve never been accused of being quiet, so this was not gonna work for me.

That left me with the local NY teams. Bummer.

I can’t root for the Yankees. Don’t get me wrong….I admire and like many of their players. How can you not root for Jeter? I have liked Nick Swisher since he broke in with Oakland. Posada has always delivered….Mariano is the best in the game and Andy Pettite, despite his Houston sojourn, will always hold a place for me as a big game winner. On today’s team, A-Rod has kind of found his place, Cano can be lazy but he can also hit and I like Texeria’s work ethic and demeanor.  But I can’t stand the team.

My lack of support centers around the way the front office deals….period. All that money and the buying of superstar after superstar.  They are built to win day in and day out. What’s the achievement? When they lose, they stink. When they win…who cares?  That’s what this highly paid group is supposed to do. Un-watchable. Un-readable. Un-rootable.

Its no better across town. For a while it was fun. The Mets have always been second class citizens here….they are to the Yankees what the Clippers are to the Lakers…..a few steps behind.  What was once an exciting young team with potential has developed into a group of underachievers.  Jose Reyes can be as exciting as anyone with his speed, glove and the pop in his bat. Too bad he is so inconsistent. And when Jose struggles, they all do. David Wright, the face of the club, needs to move on. He just doesn’t step up when they need him and when he is interviewed, its just a long, boring, monotone, cliche full and flat response to any question asked. WAKE UP!  Carlos Beltran’s story is just sad…Scott Boras duped GM Omar Minaya to sign him for superstar money after a sizzling post-season run with the Astros (remember, Boras gave the Yankees a last call option to sign Beltran at a discount to the  Mets offer…only to have GM Brian Cashman say, “No Thanks”) and he now bears the brunt of fan resentment for the team’s poor performance.  Add to all this a new stadium built for pitching, not hitting, and a roster of pitchers that is underwhelming, especially when outside of the home park, and you have the makings of a long slow slog ahead for the Mets.  And don’t forget that the owners are on the verge of a $1.0 billion lawsuit and they compete in their division with the well run Phillies, re-energized Braves, the Marlins who seem to own them and an improving through the draft Nationals team. Bad times ahead for the Mets, for sure.

So where does that leave me?  Searching, that’s where. I’d consider taking my chances and outright rooting for the Red Sox cuz they’re solid,  the whole Fenway scene is a celebration and I love when they beat the Yankees.   Maybe the Oakland A’s, since Billy Beane has been so good for so long with so little and those green and yellow uniforms with the white spikes  and the elephant logo are kind of spankin’.  You could even twist my arm on Buck Showalter’s Orioles since they are nearby and frequently have cheap seats available.  If my Wahoo Wonders in Cleveland get off to a hot start, I’d consider that season worthy too.

So I guess I’m available……who want’s me????

Posted in Baseball, Boston Red Sox, Cleveland Indians, NY Mets, NY Yankees, Uncategorized, World Series | Tagged , , , , , , | 1 Comment

There’s Pure Silver in This Mess

Mets GM Sandy Alderson

As the Sterling Boys continue to consider the available options to extricate themselves from the Madoff mess……that screaming $1.0 billion dollar lawsuit slapped on them by Madoff Trustee Irving Picard for essentially looking the other way at the steady 16%-18% annual returns his ponzi scheme threw off….several options have been discussed, most centered around selling parts of the enterprise.

Clearly, the plans have been fluid. 

In December, after the lawsuit was filed, we heard Daddy’s Boy, Mets COO Jeffie Wilpon,  tell us that “no part of the team is for sale. Period. We have many options available, like tapping the banking system for money, etc.”

One week later the real COO of the club, Daddy Fred, gave young Jeffie a public slap by calling a news conference to announce their credit line was essentially tapped out, at both the banks and MLB, and they would sell up to 25% of the club, maintaining all control. No other part of the enterprise, meaning cash positive regional sports channel SNY among others, would be included in the deal.  

Two weeks later, we heard “OK, we might sell up to 49% of the club while maintaining total control of the club. Oh, and maybe we will include a portion of SNY in the sale.”

So the revenue raise has been somewhat of a moving target, which is natural I guess as discussions with potential buyers begin.  WFAN show host Mike Francesa, who seems as wired as anyone on this freak show,  reported that as many as 30 different groups had contacted Allen & Co’s Steve Greenberg to express interest in the deal.  Francesa further stated that the Mets hoped to conclude the sale by June or July and interpreted that they had enough cash on hand to run the club up until that point.

In today’s New York Post, columnist Joel Sherman, proposes a silver lining to this black cloud and it was something I had not considered.  Essentially, Sherman suggests that the Mets do a complete salary/player dump and enter 2012 with a greatly reduced payroll (complete story linked below) and rebuilding type team.  

I know that Mets GM Sandy Alderson is up to the task and I say let him at it. 

Sherman reminds us that this season, the Mets payroll is in the $140 million range with expiring contracts ahead for starters Carlos Beltran ($19.4) and Jose Reyes ($9.375) as well as those two constant thorns in Mets fans sides, Oliver Perez  ($12.0) and Luis Castillo ($6.25).  The club also has an option on K-Rod that would cost them $3.5 million but with a salary this year of $11.5 million, that means a net savings of $8.0 million.  Add the 5 salaries together and you come to a total of $55.0 million dollars….not too shabby.

You can’t see the team just releasing these players out right.   Beltran, Reyes and K-Rod all have value in trades and GM Alderson would have little trouble making deals that returns young and inexpensive talent.   Executing that strategy essentially relegates the Mets to second or even third tier status in their own division, considering the strength of the Phillies, re-emergence of the Braves and budding youth and optimism among Nationals fans. 

That’s where Sherman pushes on, essentially saying, “why stop there”?  His idea is to also move Jason Bay and his $8.6 million, Johan Santana ($20.4) and even David Wright ($10.25), turning up another $39.3 million.  

Combined with the prior Gang of 5, this roster action creates a savings of $94.3 million! ith contracts to the new players acquired through trades and the remaining Mets, Sherman is estimating a payroll of around $70 million for 2012.

Sherman spoke with 2 different GMs who estimated that the Mets could sell about 2 million tickets with a rebuilding roster…and that combined with salary savings, could allow the club to actually earn a profit.  I don’t have enough insight to agree or disagree with any certainty, but that ticket sales figure seems high to me considering the cost of seats at CitiField.  And this strategy doesn’t really solve the need to raise instant cash to handle the Madoff mess.

But Sherman suggests that the club could potentially calm their bankers nerves and might even open the spigot again for additional loans should the hoped for profits materialize. 

Sherman argues that the strategy is the only course of action. Several “baseball people” suggest that smart fans will get it. The Mets today, as built, are not capable of winning a championship, even if the moon and stars align.  They need a re-haul and why not start today, in full? 

Sherman believes that the Wilpons have been deluding themselves for years that they are “one player away” from a title and have never shown the “discipline or intellect” to stick with a rebuilding plan in the past.    And that’s where Alderson’s experience and credibility comes in….convincing the Wilpons that this is the ONLY course of action.

I think he is already examining this entire strategy….remember, Alderson hired two expensive old hands as Assistant GMs…Paul DePodesta who worked with Alderson in Oakland and went on to lead the Dodgers (only to get fired immediately by the train wreck Frank McCourt) and JP Riccardi, who led the Blue Jays for years and was with  Boston for one season.  One task for each is to scan the market for younger players with potential and I think they are both accomplished stars at that task. So does Alderson.

I think Sherman is on to something. You?

Related Articles

THE LAST BITE

I am looking forward to the Big East tournament that begins this week… Come on Lavin, get those Johnnies rollin! Can you imagine the hype of St. John’s v. Seton Hall?

Posted in Baseball, NY Mets, Wilpon/Katz | Tagged , , , , , | 7 Comments

In Baseball, Just Who’s Chasing Who?

Baseball's Best

By Guest Blogger Richie Graeber

 

So let’s just get this out in the open, right now….

I’m tired of reading about how the Philadelphia Phillies and Boston Red Sox are on a collision course for baseball supremacy in the October classic!!  It’s the second week of spring training for crying out loud.

Despite everything I have read about these two clubs,  both of whom have made significant free agent signings and trades this off-season, as a true Yankee fan, I know that my Pinstripers are NOT chasers in this pennant race.  

I’m not at all concerned about who each team did, and my Yankees didn’t, sign this winter…..as much as I wanted Cliff Lee for the Yankees, I wouldn’t be surprised to see him have merely a “decent” season….I mean, he wasn’t exactly “lights out”  after joining Texas last year, except against the Yankees.  Up in Boston,  Lester & Clay Burkholz are the only pitchers who seem to push the Yankees around a bit.  Dice K, a seemingly always injured Josh Beckett and one-time bulldog John Lackey are all good…..but they are certainly not Yankee killers.  Bullpen stalwarts Papelbon and Jenks have both seen better days and the sheer fact that Red Sox management has considered trading the skirt wearing Papelbon is proof, to me.  

Anyone who has followed baseball for any length of time should realize that no one has ever won a pennant or World Series on paper.  We Yankee fans can surely attest to that.   Is there anyone outside of the “City by the Bay”….. or for that matter IN the “City by the Bay”….who thought the Giants would come to spring training this year as reigning World Champions?  I am in no way saying they don’t deserve it, they most certainly do –  but games aren’t won with rosters, they are won with plays….crucial and timely plays…..with both the stick and the leather. 

Great pitching alone can’t guarantee a championship…just ask the Smoltz, Avery, Maddux and Glavine led Braves of the 90s…. or the Orioles or Mets of the late sixties, early 70s ….winners of just one World Series title each with what most would admit were 3 of the better top to bottom staffs in recent memory! 

When it comes to winning, health is a major factor too, of course.  One can only imagine where the Red Sox would have finished in the AL East, and beyond, last year had injuries not decimated their daily line-up for huge chunks of time.  In my opinion, whether on his own or as mandated by GM Brian Cashman, handling the starting line-ups “workload” is one of the best things Yankee skipper Joe Girardi does. 

While I may bleed pinstripe blue….when projecting our chances for this coming season, I am enough of a baseball realist to look at my Yankees, and our roster and talent level, objectively. 

We have an outstanding front 7, led by a slimmer and trimmer CC Sabathia, a maturing Phil Hughes and the much maligned AJ Burnett, whose off-season efforts to change his delivery after a  very frustrating June – September period last year, looks to provide great improvement and consistency in his return to form.  In the back of the rotation, I like the competition among the young guns the Yanks have shown so far this spring….so much so that I’d love to see this young talent on our major league roster ASAP (it seems to me that we’re the only team that waits till a guy is 25 before we bring him up).  I like Nova to secure the 4th….and I think the aging but one time successful Freddy Garcia will win the 5th spot….although my actual rotation would bump Freddie to the 4th slot and drop Nova to the 5th as it should mean less innings for the youngster.  Should Garcia pull-off a season delivering 200 innings and 15 wins, Cashman would deserve to be carried down Broadway on fans shoulders for such an astute signing. And I volunteer to do it!  (And by the way, what did Chien- Ming Wang, after two straight Staff ACE years with 19 wins,  ever do to be banished from Yankeedom?) 

 
But the real Yankee defensive power rests in the bullpen.  Every team that has ever won has not had 4 or 5 All-Star pitchers but instead maybe 2 or at most 3.  Mariano and the newly acquired set-up man Soriano will combine to make each Yankee start simply a 6 inning affair as they combine to close out game after game.  Our Yankees just need to throw strikes , stop giving into hitters by walking them and get to producing more ground balls that our infield can easy turn into automatic outs.  

Don’t let me forget the offense….and clearly Boston’s will challenge the Yankees… the thing I fear most is the Carl Crawford/ Jacoby Ellsworth base stealing combo.  From what we saw last year, the Sox and most other teams as well, have no fear of stealing second…and maybe even third….against Mariano late in games…essentially turning a single or walk into a quick double or triple…and run scoring opportunity….just 2 pitches later!  As for the Phils, great team, great pitching staff(?) that will compete day in and day out….but the story will come to light as the season plays on over time.  And don’t forget, these Phillies have the defending World Champions to contend with on their path to the World Series.  

Ain’t baseball great…………we can talk and write all season long and then, in November, we find out who’s right and who’s wrong.  Regardless of the feared line-ups of Phils and Red Sox, I gotta still like the Yankee chances. In 2010, we snared 95 wins with Pettite out 1/2 a season, Burnett “pitching” at a minor league level and a carousel of faux starters for the better part of the year. 

This Yankee team can and will improve on last year. They are showing more depth and experience along with their youthful potential.  I’m excited.  And just in case you missed it….the Yankees are NOT chasers in this pennant race.

Richie Graeber is a true Yankee living in Lousiana…Rebel country. “I never give up on the Yankees until mathematically eliminated so don’t you!!”

Posted in Balleehoo, Baseball, Boston Red Sox, NY Yankees, Philadelphia Phillies, Richie Graeber, World Series | Tagged , , , , , , | 4 Comments

The Soup Thickens

The Money Man Selig

As in just about any scandal, the facts continue to leak out. Today we learned that Major League Baseball has turned off the spigot that New York Mets owners Fred Wilpon and Saul Katz have been tapping to cover their short-term needs.

The latest information was that MLB had provided $25 million to the Metsies back in November….well before Madoff Trustee Irving Picard had slapped the estimated $1.0 billion suit on them….to cover “operating costs”.

Today, we learn that MLB’s largesse has come to an end.  At first glance, one would think that with a $1.2 billion line of credit, MLB should be in a position to provide more help.  What’s $25 million?

But the word in banking circles is that Selig and Co.’s actual loan to the club is much higher. More like $60 million. That’s almost 50% higher than the $41 million that Bud offered to help save the Texas Rangers last year as they slipped into bankruptcy, eventually selling to a group led by Nolan Ryan.

That Texas Rangers “experience”, tagged as “very easy” by Rangers then CFO Kellie Fischer, wasn’t exactly easy for everyone.  Selig heard about it big time from other owners….accusing him of using their money to help Texas reach the World Series with last-minute deals to acquire pricey talent like Cliff Lee. 

The owners’ anger is just one reason this has ground to a halt. 

How about this one…..the major banks that have outstanding loans to Wilpon/Katz, estimated to be between $450 to $500 million….have pretty mixed emotions.  The terms of the MLB loans call for the league to take “first position” among lenders when it comes to getting their money back….meaning the banks themselves, carrying the Mets for all these years, don’t get paid back until AFTER MLB. Now, one could argue that it’s in the banks’ best interest to keep the franchise financially strong to enable the team to sell for a hefty price. But, there is no guarantee that any sale will cover the entire debt….meaning they might get caught holding a piece of the bag.

I think there is another reason as well….one that is flying below the radar…..the Frank and Jamie McCourt fiasco.  The couple bought the Los Angeles Dodgers in 2004 from FOX. Frank has been nothing short of shifty in his tenure of ownership…starting from Day One. 

When negotiating the deal, McCourt was well short of cash and convinced FOX’s Tony Vincequerra, who handled FOX’s side of the sale, to lend him cash against the purchase, using a parking lot in south Boston as collateral.  He defaulted on the loan shortly thereafter, FOX took possession of the property, and sold it.  The entire Dodger story is a wild one and maybe I’ll get into a bit down the road….but like the Mets, the Dodgers are drowning in debt.  Their looming trouble is a pending divorce between Frank and Jamie with actual ownership of the club up for grabs.  If the ruling made last December, that the McCourts are joint owners holds up, someone is going to have to raise money to buy the other one out. Alot of money.

Needing cash to keep his franchise value high, just like the Mets, Frank found a lender outside of the banking system in FOX, with reports surfacing of a loan of $40 million to cover operating costs, but that must have simply been a stop-gap.

In January, at his request, Frank visited the MLB Park Avenue offices. He met with a team of execs from MLB that Commissioner Selig did not attend. In those meetings, Frank presented his future financial plan to keep his franchise sound, in part seeking MLB approval to leverage future broadcast rights into a reported  incremental $200 million loan from FOX.  The Commissioner denied his request.

That brings us back to the end of the Mets MLB credit line. I think Bud is using his noodle. He knows that McCourt is one litigious SOB and he cannot continue to treat the Mets in a different, more friendly manner than he treats the Dodgers.  I think Bud rues the day he approved McCourt as an owner and he’d love to find a way to boot him from the chummy owners’ club….this divorce and cash crunch being his weapon of choice.  But he needs to let it play out, over time.

That “time” is going to really squeeze our boys Wilpon and Katz.  For you Met fans who plead for theses guys to sell the team, you can tip your cap to Frank McCourt because he is going to help bring them down. No more Park Avenue largesse.

I’d normally feel sorry for Wilpon and Katz, having lost $500 million when Madoff cratered and got arrested. But I can’t in the end because I don’t buy what they are selling.  

Wilpon says that he never knew Madoff was running a fraud, that he had “put money into the account just 3 weeks before it all collapsed” and uses that action as his clear sign of naivete….but to me that means nothing….I think he suspected fraud for sure, he just didn’t know when the party was going to end.

Wilpon and Katz weren’t alone either. Madoff’s arrest shocked the financial community…not because he was caught, but certainly for the staggering amount of money he was “handling”.  Fred and Saul simply thought they could keep printing “Madoff” money without detection and they too were caught by surprise when the party ended.  Their money went in because they were greedy, and as the facts come out, needed the gains to operate their businesses.  With $500 million in Madoff, they were earning roughly $80 million PER YEAR at the estimated 16% average rate of return.

With each day another tough story surfaces, each one giving a prospective buyer greater leverage to drive down the price.  As appointed mediator Mario Cuomo sifts through the many details, facts and opinions provided by the Mets and the Madoff Trustee while attempting to reach a settlement, one thing is certain…the soup is getting really thick for Fred and Jeff Wilpon and Saul Katz.

THE LAST BITE

Hank Steinbrenner is a blow-hard owner who was handed the keys to one of our sports franchises from Daddy…..and I can now add him to the list of less-than-deserving “owners” Jimmy Dolan and Jeff Wilpon who inherited leadership, not earned it.

Posted in Balleehoo, Baseball, NY Mets, Wilpon/Katz | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

The Age Old Dilemma; Morals vs. Money

A scene from the "Two and a Half Men" episode whose plot summary included just three words....Helfer, Taylor, threesome

If you are a frequent Balleehoo reader, you see the headline and think to yourself…”what more has Jed learned about the Wilpon/Katz saga” and hopefully, you want to keep reading.  That entire mess fascinates me to no end.

Today though, I am veering off into another area of interest…back to the world of television.

Over the past month or so, its been difficult, if not impossible, to watch TV and/or read any newspaper, magazine or internet post without having a sense of Charlie Sheen’s latest “antics”…and that’s putting it mildly.   

Born Carlos Irwin Estevez in 1965, the son of Martin Sheen, Charlie was one of the original members of the “Brat Pack” who  has made a great living over the years in film and then TV. 

In his most memorable feature film roles, you had to love him in “Major League”….where he played the role of Indians closer Ricky Vaughn…aka Wild Thing….on their purely fictional rise to the American League Championship (some day!!!!!),  and later despised him as the greedy Bud Fox in Wall Street when he exulted “Blue Star’s in play!” as well as other golden lines and deeds. 

Like many successful actors, he has extended and enhanced his visibility and acting career by transforming himself from features into a reliable TV comedy actor with a variety of successful roles over the years.  If you think hard, you probably recall that he very ably replaced comedy icon Michael J. Fox in ABC’s sitcom “Spin City”, produced by Dreamworks TV, for the series’ final two seasons in 2001 and ’02.  Hand selected by Fox to take a lead role in the series, Sheen had come out of rehab to actually surprise critics with his work, earning a Golden Globe in 2002 for Best Actor in a TV Series, Musical or Comedy. 

That work set the stage for his co-leading role as Charlie Harper, loosely based on his real life bad boy image, in “Two and Half Men”.  The show, produced and financed by Warner Bros. studios, premiered on CBS in 2003 in the coveted Monday 9:30 pm time slot following comedy hit “Everybody Loves Raymond”, helping  maintain the network’s lead position as a Monday night comedy destination.

Of course, successful tv shows are a team game and Sheen can’t be credited with these results alone….smart and talented producers, a generous studio to front the cash, network program team that commits to a series, nurtures it and promotes it smartly and heavily…and on and on.   But undeniably, he did get much of the acclaim as Sheen’s role became the lead character, the show itself became the top rated comedy on television, leading Sheen to demand and earn a reported $1.8 million per episode (times 24 episodes PER YEAR folks), for leading CBS’ comedy revival. 

Interestingly, outside of some technical categories, neither the show itself, nor Sheen, has won an Emmy Award in the comedy genre.  Hooray for the TV Academy….they got this one right.  To me, this show is the lowest form of comedy….non-stop extremely obvious sex jokes and drug and alcohol references delivered at machine gun pace.  The show is morally reprehensible, to me, and I think it fitting that all those involved, right up to the top, should be forced to actually live the lifestyle they glamorize every week…..or at the very least, force their kids to watch and absorb the life lessons now shown in each episode, both on CBS primetime and again in syndication, usually at 7:00 pm, around the country.   

Want a taste of what these two media behemoths are promoting?   Well, take at look at how their $43.2 million dollar a year “star” Sheen has lived his life over the last two decades and remember, the show itself is “loosely based on the actor’s real life” according to critics……

In 1990, Sheen accidentally shot his then-fiancee, Kelly Preston, in the arm, after which she ended the relationship. Sheen dated former pornographic actress Ginger Lynn for two years starting in 1990. He was also involved for a time with former pornographic actress Heather Hunter.  In 1995, Sheen married for the first time and was named as one of many clients who visited brothels owned by Heide Fleiss in her court case that same year.

On May 20, 1998, Sheen tried injecting cocaine,  accidentally giving himself an overdose. He was hospitalized, but discharged from the hospital soon afterward. His father Martin issued a public appeal for fans to pray for him and reported him for violating his parole. A warrant was issued for his arrest, and Sheen was sent to rehab.

On June 15, 2002, he married actress Denise Richards, who filed for divorce in 2005, accusing Sheen of abusing drugs and alcohol and threatening Richards with violence. 

Sounds like a real stand-up guy, huh?  Hold on…..

On May 30, 2008, Sheen married Brooke Mueller, a real estate investor.   On Christmas Day, 2009, Sheen was arrested on charges of domestic violence,  including second-degree assault and menacing, against Mueller.   Sheen eventually plead guilty to misdemeanor assault and was “sentenced to 30 days in a rehabilitation center” and other penalties.  That marriage ended in 2010.

In February 2010, Sheen announced that he would take a break from “Two and a Half Men” to voluntarily enter a rehab facility. Production on the series shut down and one month later, Sheen left rehab and returned to work on the popular sitcom.  On May 18, 2010, Sheen signed an agreement to return to the sitcom for another two years for a reported $1.8 million per episode.

But wait,  there’s MORE!!!!!  

On October 26, 2010, the police removed Sheen from his suite at the Plaza Hotel after he had reportedly caused $7,000 in damage.  According to the NYPD, Sheen admitted to having been drinking and taking cocaine, was taken to a hospital for observation and released.

Most recently, on January 27, 2011, Sheen was taken to Cedars Sinai Medical Center by paramedics because the actor was suffering from “severe abdominal pains”.  A day later, and for the third time on record, Sheen began undergoing a substance rehabilitation program, this time defiantly in his own home.  CBS and production studio Warner Bros. announced that “Two and a Half Men” would go into hiatus immediately thereafter.

When the hiatus was announced, CBS had two original episodes left to air, scheduling them for February 7 and 14.  How fitting…the title of the Feb 7 episode…..”Three Hookers and a Philly Cheesesteak” just about sums this series up….

If you are wondering why CBS and Warner Bros. would allow Charlie Sheen to earn $43.2 million dollars, per season (really about 8 months work)….its pretty simple. They were both making even MORE money.  If you are interested in the details, click this link to the Hollywood Reporter….. http://www.hollywoodreporter.com/news/two-men-shutdown-cost-cbs-94529  ….to fully understand what the studio and network earn for this filth.  The shorthand version…CBS gets about $3.0 million a week in direct ad support, an anchor for their other Monday comedies and a powerhouse lead-in vehicle to drive viewership (and more ad revenue) to their new 9:30 comedy “Mike and Molly”, another Warner Bros. series.   Just for the record, the last beneficiary of the “Two and a Half” lead in was…you got it…. another Warner Bros. produced comedy, “The Big Bang Theory”, which moved to anchor CBS’ Thursday night schedule this past fall.  “Big Bang” has been a cash cow for Warners, having sold for $2.0 million per episode last May to TBS and the FOX station group for a syndicated run beginning this fall.  With 77 episodes produced through this season, that’s some serious cash.

For Warners…”Two and a Half” earns roughly $2 billion in syndication revenue through 2021.  Currently in its 8th season of production, the cancellation of season 9 would cost Warners an estimated $250 million on the back-end.   Its pretty simple……keep that show running.

And there in lies the dilemma……with so much money at stake, what do CBS and Warner Bros. do?  Their star Sheen is an adult, capable of making his own decisions on how he lives his life.  If that means eventually killing himself on a binge of drugs, alcohol and hookers….well, that’s his choice. ‘What can we do,” they say, “Charlie shows up on time for every shoot and we never have any problems on the set.”  So they shoot more episodes and rake in the big cash while they can.   In their minds, I’ll bet they rationalize their actions as such…. “We’ve gone on hiatus and have pleaded with him to clean up his life.  If he OD’s, gets AIDs, drinks himself into a coma….well, he’s a big boy and who are we to apply any real pressure to get him to stop? Oh, and by the way, how’s my bonus looking this year?”

Sheen has been very vocal about all the attention his latest round of addiction and rehab have attained. Yesterday he released some pretty scathing comments, via his editorial mouthpiece of sorts TMZ (of all things) and the syndicated radio “Alex Jones Show” (nope, never heard of him or it either) directed at show creator Chuck Lorre, Thomas Jefferson and Alcohlics Anonymous.

And that proved to be too much for our corporate kingpins…..as late yesterday, CBS and Warner Bros., in a joint statement, said “Based on the totality of Charlie Sheen’s statements, conduct and condition, CBS and Warner Bros. Television have decided to discontinue production of ‘Two and a Half Men’ for the remainder of the season,” the statement read in full.  Meaning the final four episodes this season…..but nothing said at all about the contracted 9th season coming up…the one that will cost Warners an estimated $250 million in syndie dough and CBS $155 million in ad revenue.

I guess, in the end, the Hollywood geniuses at Warners and CBS think its ok to marry and divorce at will, get arrested more than once for violent behavior…either threatening physical abuse or actually doing it to his last two wives…live a public life of drugs, alcohol and hookers and then publicize and glamorize that lifestyle by playing a character on tv that seemingly lives the same way while getting paid a fortune to do it…….as long as they make money for it.   And when Sheen’s life ends because of his out-of-control antics, you know these executives will be at the service, with their sad looks and dark suits, mourning his loss, after buying full page ads in Variety and the like expressing their sorrow.

But…..mock the brains behind the show, call Lorre a “p###y prick and a stupid, stupid man”, challenge him to a fight in the Octagon, ridicule his role in the show’s success…..well, that’s just over the line….and cancelling the rest of the season with an implied threat to cancel the whole series is totally justified.

You know what I think….these people all deserve each other…that not one of them is any different from the rest.  Their mothers, spouses and children must be so proud and it begs the question,   When is enough really enough?

Posted in Balleehoo, CBS, Two and a Half Men, Uncategorized, Warner Bros. | Tagged , , , , , | 7 Comments

Carmelo’s Arrival just a Car-Wreck-O in Waiting?

By Guest Blogger Bruce Springstead

     WWWHHHOOOOOOSSSHHH. That’s the sound Spike Lee and Knick fans will be hearing on the Garden floor, now that Carmelo Anthony’s racing to New York. Like a NASCAR event, the Knicks will be zooming down the court, rapidly filling the basket for 145 points a game. Unfortunately, their tanks will be on EMPTY when they’re asked to play defense, especially during crunch time. But so what if they give up 150? Isn’t this what Knick fans have settled for — running over opponents and ringing up the score all the way to the playoffs, thumping chests, and assuming all is well again at the Garden? Finally, some excitement, right? Not so fast Kimosabe.

     Knick fans and their front office are skipping down Seventh Ave., giddy with the prospect of playoff fever, which they were virtually assured of anyway, even before Carmelo’s arrival. Given the current state of Eastern Conference teams, the Knicks would still make the playoffs, even if their pre-All Star slump was extended. But will Melo and his fellow Nuggets REALLY bring the Knicks closer to a championship? Not really. Not this year, and not anytime soon. Here’s why.   

     When Amare Stoudemire was brought in to supply plenty of points, rebounds and excitement, the fans were jubilant. He has not disappointed, especially when surrounded by a bunch of non-stars. He’s one of the best athletes in the league, and he eased some of the pain fans felt when Lebron said “No Thanks” to New York. But there’s a LOT of miles on Amare’s knees. Coach Mike D’Antoni’s offensive philosophy — run like there’s a gun to you head — was fun in Phoenix, especially with Steve Nash passing the rock to Amare, but it had already started taking it’s toll on Stoudemire. Then D’Antoni came to New York to erase the stench that was masquerading as basketball in the Garden. Knicks brass apparently felt that an up-tempo offense would clear the air faster, and bring a little glitz back to the playoff starved fans. Adios to Eddy Curry and David Lee. Enter Amare.

     Make no mistake. The Knicks are Amare’s team. Surrounded by an over-achieving point guard in Raymond Felton, an improving Danilo Gallinari,  young and exciting Wilson Chandler, steady and smart Landry Fields, Amare and the Knicks started slow, but then found some chemistry. They began believing in themselves. The Knicks became competitive, feared nobody, and pulled off some impressive wins against the N.B.A. elite. There was a buzz again in New York. People were talking about Amare and the no-name Knicks. Sure, they had holes, none bigger than their defense, but they were fun to watch, and you found yourself rooting for them. D’Antoni spread his offense all over the court, the passing got crisp, and the open man was found. I started watching again. I watched more Knick games this year than in the last 5 years combined.

     But with the trade deadline drawing closer, the Nets and Lakers got more interested in the Carmelo Anthony sweepstakes, which pressured the Knicks even more. Knick players heard the rumors. It affected their play, and the team slumped. Owner James Dolan didn’t want the Brooklyn bound Nets to steal Carmelo from under him, and he doesn’t want to lose the sizzle of recent success. Then the Lakers lose interest, and “advisor” Isiah Thomas whispers sweet nothings in Dolan’s ear. The trigger’s pulled. Enter Carmelo.

     Carmelo Anthony is a scorer. He can fill it up fast. He can create. He’s also somewhat moody. Along in the trade comes teammate Chauncy Billups, a playmaker who will make sure Melo gets his touches. Chauncy has made a lot of clutch shots in his career at the end of games. He LIKES the game enders. No longer is Amare THE MAN.  Knick chemistry is radically changed. Stoudemire could turn into Sourmire

     D’Antoni’s run and gun show will enter warp speed. Surprised? He has to prove the trade will work. But he also needs to prove he knows the value of a good bench. He thinks a bench is something for his starters to put their warm-ups and water bottles on. With little substitution, Amare will break down more as time goes on, if not this year, then certainly soon. If Carmelo doesn’t get his fill, he’ll sulk. Billups has 16 years in the league. Players like Wade and Rondo will make it tough on him in the playoffs IF the Knicks make it that deep.

   Lastly, Dolan’s dollars will be compromised soon, once the next collective bargaining agreement is reached. He already overspent on Stoudemire, giving him 100 million. And now Anthony drives his own Brinks truck. Caps and new fiscal rule changes will alter the chances of landing more big name free agents anytime soon. So the Knicks now own two studs, an old point guard, limited role players, an invisible bench, a coach who pushes his players to outscore the world, and management who can’t buy a clue, even with all that cable T.V. money. The future has been mortgaged again. Same ‘ol Same ‘ol.   

      The fans should enjoy Amare Stoudemire while he’s healthy. When the wheels fly off his chassis, it will be Carmelo’s team. Then we’re back to the starting gate. The Knicks will never win anything with James Dolan as the owner, and Donnie Walsh as team president. Period. Coach D’Antoni may keep it interesting and fun — for a while. But, can anyone explain why Isiah Thomas advises ANYONE on the Knicks? Is it any wonder this team is always within arms reach of the Self Destruct button?

     Take heart Knick fans. It’s only two years until the 40th Anniversary of their last championship.   Surely James Dolan will be there, promising another one before the 50th Anniversary.  Isaih will tell him so.

 I hope Spike Lee enjoys watching the NASCAR races at the Garden, but he should  bring a fire extinguisher. There’s a crash coming right around the corner….

    

Bruce Springstead is “a long suffering Knicks fan who fondly remembers the days of Clyde, Pearl, Debussch, Bradley and The Captain, Willis.  Cazzie off the bench was no slouch either.”

Posted in Balleehoo, Bruce Springstead, Carmelo Anthony, NY Knicks, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment