City Sports Report

Mets continue to watch cost at all costs By Lloyd Carroll

Sandy Alderson

The recently concluded baseball winter meetings in San Diego produced little news for Mets fans aside from the team signing former Philadelphia Phillies outfielder John Mayberry, Jr. to a $1.45 million, one-year contract. Mayberry has power and he had been a thorn in the Mets’ side whenever they played Philadelphia. This is the kind of bargain basement acquisition that has become a hallmark of Mets general manager Sandy Alderson’s tenure.

If that was all that transpired then the Mets would have been better off than they were before the winter meetings. Unfortunately Alderson once again felt compelled to discuss Mets’ fans least favorite topic; namely the Amazin’s need for continued “payroll flexibility.” That term has become a sports euphemism for pinching pennies, which of course is an area that the Mets have expertise.

As an example of the Mets’ desire to keep their payroll under $100 million, which by Major League Baseball team standards is a rather modest figure, Alderson virtually admitted that he would be delighted to trade reliable starting pitcher Dillon Gee for a bag of Skittles just to shed his estimated 2015 $6,000,000 salary.

Gee did not have a great 2014 season, posting a 7-8 record with a 4.00 earned run average. But throughout his career, he has generally pitched well enough to give his team a chance to win. Given the Mets’ popgun offense of recent years, that is saying a lot.

One of the most famous cliches in baseball is that you can never have enough pitching. Right now the Mets are counting on Matt Harvey (fresh off Tommy John surgery), 40 year-old Bartolo Colon, Jonathon Niese, Zach Wheeler and National League Rookie of the Year Jacob de Grom to be their 2015 starting contingent, which would leave Dillon Gee as the odd man out. Even the most optimistic Mets fan would doubt that all five will either stay completely healthy or be as productive as the team would like. Dillon Gee is a rather inexpensive insurance option who can work in long relief until he’s needed to start.

There have been a lot of books written about Jewish baseball players but few about other sports. Sandra Harwitt shines a light on Jewish tennis players, many of whom participated in the US Open when it was played in Forest Hills as well as its current home, the Billie Jean King National Tennis Center in Flushing Meadows, in her new book titled “The Greatest Jewish Tennis Players Of All-Time” (New Chapter Press). It makes for a thoughtful Hanukkah gift.

Former St. John’s hoops star JaKarr Sampson was in town Friday night when his current team, the Philadelphia 76ers, played the Brooklyn Nets. Sampson said that he is thrilled that the Red Storm are ranked in the top 25 college teams this year.

Sunday’s Jets-Titans game in Nashville featured two of the worst teams in the NFL this year and it was indeed as awful a game as one could have imagined. Both teams put on a clinic on how to commit stupid penalties and perform as ineptly as is possible for so-called professional athletes.  Unfortunately for Jets fans their team squeaked out a 16-11 victory, which means that they will have no shot at drafting Florida State quarterback Jameis Winston or his Oregon counterpart, Heisman Trophy winner Marcus Mariota.

The 80th Heisman Trophy Award presentation was held at Times Square’s Best Buy Theater Saturday night, as Marcus Mariota easily emerged victorious in the voting over Wisconsin running back Melvin Gordon and Alabama wide receiver Amari Cooper.

I asked all three of the aforementioned players if they believed that college football players should be compensated. In the past, student athletes would look like deer in the headlights of oncoming traffic when asked about the exploitative economics of college sports, but times are clearly changing. Both Gordon and Cooper were not afraid to state how much time that they have to sacrifice to take part in college football, which is a money-generating machine and therefore they deserve some sort of compensation. Mariota, knowing that he is going to make a fortune soon playing for an NFL team, took the more politically safe route by saying that he understood why student athletes deserved large stipends but he also praised the full scholarships that they do receive.

Prince William and Princess Kate’s visit to the Barclays Center to watch the Brooklyn Nets get annihilated by LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers last Monday night, brought more awareness to Global Wildlife Conservation. The British royals are teaming with NBA Cares, the league’s philanthropic arm, to help protect endangered species by trying to eliminate the elephant poaching trade. Former Houston Rockets star center Yao Ming is dedicating a lot of his time to make sure that consumers in China understand the evils of using products made from ivory.

The winter can be a rough time health-wise, particularly for skiers. Aches and pains are a lot worse in cold weather so here are some tips. KT Tape is an adhesive that reduces muscular pain without impacting range motion. Skin areas are particularly prone to a variety of irritations. Chapped lips are a nuisance and many guys are hesitant to use lip balm because it reminds them of lipstick. Carmex has solved that problem by creating an ointment tube where the salve can be applied discretely. Columbia Healing Cream is a good product for repairing cracked skin on one’s extremities.

File this one under the “What took so long?” department. Guinness, long synonymous with dark beer, has literally seen the light. The Irish brewer has just rolled out Guinness American Blonde Lager.

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