Monday, September 12, 2011

Too Bad Mets Couldn't Cap Off 9/11 Commemorations

Usually, the Mets do a pretty good job on their own of ignoring their own history. This time MLB and ESPN did it for them.

The Mets may once again not have any meaningful games in September, but Sunday they at least had a meaningful pregame - commemorating the tenth anniversary of the terrorist attacks of 9/11. The Mets played in the first professional sporting event in New York after 9/11. Mike Piazza hit what is probably the most memorable homer in the fifty-year history of the franchise.
And the Mets wore caps commemorating the heroic first responders.

But MLB didn't allow them to wear those caps last night.

I've lost track of the number of times I've wondered, what is Bud Selig thinking? Or more precisely, is Bud Selig thinking? The edict came down from Selig lieutenant Joe Torre, so he must share in the blame as well. As for speculation that the Mets were unwilling to risk a fine because they didn't want to pay it, or because MLB might demand that the Mets start paying back that $25 million loan, even if there's any truth to that, the problem still begins with MLB's ridiculous decision not to allow the Mets to wear the caps.

Had the game been played at the usual Sunday time of 1 p.m., the Mets would have had their ceremony well before the Giants' opening game and the U.S. Open final. The Yankees were also playing later in the afternoon.

Then there's ESPN scheduling the game for the worst possible time - directly opposite the glamor matchup of Jets vs. Cowboys. Complete, of course, with its own ceremony, and frequent shots across the Hudson of the New York skyline. You would think they would realize how many Met fans are Jet fans and vice versa.

Ideally, the game would have been played at the Mets' usual Sunday time of 1:10 p.m, well before the Giants, Yankees, and Jets games, as well as the U.S. Open final.

ESPN recognized that it would be a good night to air a ballgame from New York. But how about at least moving it up an hour to 7 p.m.? Fans could have tuned in to the ceremonies, then switched over to the Jets.

Last Thursday, President Obama gave his jobs speech at 7 pm rather than 8 pm. The President of the United States didn't think a major speech before Congress could compete with NBC's national football broadcast, but ESPN, which knows a thing or two about the popularity of football, thought people would tune in instead to Mets-Cubs?

At least my biggest gripe yesterday involved the particulars of a commemoration. It was far different ten years ago.

When the second plane hit, I knew I'd be coming in early to work that day at the Daily News. My Eighth Ave. subway was diverted to Sixth Ave., so I got out on 33rd St. and Sixth in preparation for walking over to the News' offices near Tenth Ave. It was a few minutes after 10 a.m., and everyone on the street was staring at the smoke pouring from the Twin Towers. I stared as well, unable to believe what I was seeing, before heading toward the office.

What I didn't realize at the time was that the first tower was already gone. There was so much smoke that you couldn't tell. Or maybe I did see just one tower but couldn't process that information - I had enough trouble processing it when I made it to work.

Or more precisely, the street in front of the office, which had been evacuated.

We soon were allowed back in, where I updated the web site with the awful news until finally leaving at 11 pm. I boarded a nearly deserted subway and made my way back uptown.

Sports did eventually offer a respite during that difficult time, but for me, the turning point was not Piazza's home run. It was Game 7 of the 2001 World Series.

I had grudgingly admitted that a Yankee World Series win would be good for the city. When the Yankees held the lead in the ninth with Mariano Rivera on the mound, another Yankee title appeared inevitable. It would be their fifth in sixth years.

Then, miraculously, the Diamondbacks rallied to win the game and the World Series. As a New Yorker, I was supposed to be upset, but I was the happiest I'd been in weeks. The mighty Yankees had lost! Yes, there was a new normal, but at least some things could remain the same. It was all right once again to root against the Yankees.


Anonymous said...

Nothing cures the blues like a Yanker loss! In America's darkest days, it was the D-backs that gave an emotional lift to our country, not the Evil Empire (cue the Star Wars music).

Notice the parallels? Al-Qaida (evil) tries to dominate the world, specifically the US (freedom and goodness). But we strike back and eventually kill their leader.

The Yankers (evil empire) try to dominate the baseball world with the buckets of money and cheating ways, but the D-backs strike back and show the world that freedom and goodness will always triumph over malice, greed and evil.

Uncle Mike said...

In case you weren't paying attention, Freshy, America was rooting for New York at the time, but it was the Republican Arizona that derailed us, much as they derailed the hunt for Osama bin Laden.

The Yankees do not cheat, and any baseball team can outspend the Yankees if they so choose. They choose not to. THAT is evil: Choosing to lose.

You, however, do not choose to lose. You're stuck as a loser. In the words of Lady Gaga (still not sure which team she really supports), you were born this way.

Anonymous said...

Mikey, you just don't understand basic economics. According to you, the Royals (or any perennially losing team) are located in a huge market, with a huge fanbase, have their own cable network that generates hundreds of millions in profits every year, plus countless other sources of revenue, so that they can afford to hire only the best coaches, scouts, talent evaluators, players, etc?? Please... don't make me laugh.

Don't even try to make the argument that the billionaire owners should be spending their own money on the team, because eventually their own money will run out and then both the owner and the team will be broke.

Not only that, billionaires don't have a billion dollars in the bank, they have a billion dollars worth of holdings that are typically not liquid, so it's not easy to just go to the bank and withdraw a hundred million bucks and spend it on payroll.

And, if YOU were a billionaire and owned the Royals (or some other small market team), would you run right out and spend all of your money on the team's payroll, jack it up to $150 million or more and HOPE that the team wins? I didn't think so. Billionaires don't spend money on payroll just for the sake of spending money. They treat their teams as profit centers, just like all of their other holdings. The first priority for them is making a profit, then winning.

And the Yankers DO cheat. Did you miss the reports about guys in the stands flashing signs to the dugout? Or the numerous reports of steroid use? C'mon Mikey, it's time for you to have the rectal craniotomy that you so desperately need. In other words, get your head out of your ass.

Uncle Mike said...

No, Freshy, it is YOU who do not understand basic economics. The Royals ARE in a huge market. It's called "Planet Earth." You might want to visit sometime. The merchandising alone can make a profit for a team, if that's all the owner is interested in. Throw in the fact that the owner of the Royals is married to Wal-Mart, and he can spend whatever he wants. At least until President Obama nationalizes Wal-Mart. Why not, they already call him a socialist, so he might as well do the right thing. Until that happens, the MLB owners' money will never run out.

If I were a billionaire and owned a team in an allegedly small market, I would do whatever it takes to win -- within the rules. That is what the Yankees have done. More importantly, if I were the Commissioner of Baseball, I would ban for life owners who didn't do that, because losing on purpose is a fraud against the public. As Herman Edwards would say, you don't play just to play it: You play to win the game.

And the Yankees do NOT cheat. Did you miss the history of sign-stealing going back to the invention of baseball signs? And "the numerous reports of steroid use" show that no team has been HURT by it more than the Yankees due to the crimes of their opponents. Get my head out of my ass? Here, I'm the head, and you're the ass.

Anonymous said...

"...The Royals ARE in a huge market...". Oh really, that's why they sell just as much merchandise as the Yankers? That also explains how they are able to manage a $200 million payroll, too. How silly of me.

"...I would do whatever it takes to win...". And when you try to sign a top-level player but can't because the Yankers will offer more years and dollars, then what? You're stuck with 100 losses, that's what. Try to build a team through the draft and what happens? You get a few decent players but not enough to make a competitive team. And when those few really good players become free agents, it's off to the highest bidder, aka the Yankers.

So you're a billionaire, the rules don't prohibit you from spending all of your own personal money on your team's payroll. Would you do it?? I didn't think so.

I agree with you on one point - the Commissioner should be forcing owners to play to win, not just to make money. Perhaps a salary cap and a salary floor? With a $20 million range? Something like a $120 million cap with a $100 million floor? That way no team can outspend any other team by more than $20 million, which would (finally) provide at least the appearance of competitive balance, something which baseball desperately needs, because right now there is none.

"...And "the numerous reports of steroid use" show that no team has been HURT by it more than the Yankees due to the crimes of their opponents...". What? That makes no sense. So what you're saying is that when, let's say Barry Bonds, is accused of taking steroids, this hurts the Yankers? Oh I get it, now they are afraid to buy him away from the Giants because of public perception, so what you are saying is that the Yankers are hurt because they can't cherry-pick all of the big sluggers now, because they don't want the stigma of steroids hanging over their heads. Instead what they do is take a clean average player with no steroid reputation (yet), like Curtis Granderson, secretly get him on a steroid regimen, and watch him suddenly have a career year in home runs, and try to spin it as "well now that he's a Yanker, he's just following in the footsteps of our great sluggers". Yeah all that says is that your "great sluggers" have all been on drugs. Oh but you don't CHEAT do you?

rajmangal said...

In case you weren't paying attention, Freshy, America was rooting for New York at the time, but it was the Republican Arizona that derailed us, much as they derailed the hunt for Osama bin Laden.
India sports

Anonymous said...

rajmangal - what an original thought, thanks for sharing.

Uncle Mike said...

His thought made more sense than anything you said, even though he isn't even from the U.S. But at least he's from Earth.

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