Not only does money talk, it’s talked about.
Mets boss Steve Cohen’s numbers game, shelling out over $807 million in free agent contracts and adding to that bill with an astronomical luxury tax, has the baseball media sounding a lot more like business reporters.
The timing of the Cohen’s deal with Carlos Correa, allowed the Mets to overshadow 6-7 Aaron Judge’s captaincy anointment Wednesday at the Stadium. The Judge hoopla was designed to capture New York’s sports narrative for 24 hours. Instead, Cohen’s money won the day in all media precincts.
Even the cast of voices, and the production value YES brought to the Judge proceedings, couldn’t out-Cohen, Cohen and the breaking news he bought, er, brought, to Mets World, including all interested parties at SNY.
The baseball media has always been obsessed with who is spending what. That includes baseball’s luxury tax, now named after the Mets owner. You would think that particular story is better suited for Accounting Today magazine.
In contrast, when was the last time you heard Charles Barkley, Stephen A. Smith, or other NBA media types, issue soliloquies, or spend time, dissecting that league’s luxury tax? This, despite the fact that last season, on the way to a championship, Golden State spent an NBA-high $170.3 million in luxury tax. There was not even a peep accusing the Warriors of trying to buy a title. Or proclaiming Warriors majority owner, Joe Lacob, a hero or villain.
Maybe it has to do with a more laissez faire attitude in the NBA when it comes to money, where bench guys routinely earn eye-popping cash.
In the case of Cohen, whose Mets 2023 luxury tax bill is projected — according to Spotrac — to be $113 million, it means more. That’s because of the harsh dichotomy between the Steinbrenner Yankees and the Mets when it came to spending big on free agents.
Despite a World Series appearance in 2015, Mets fans — and some in the media — have effectively played the role of baseball’s downtrodden. Their battle cry was Poor-Me.
Now, thanks to their new leader, the bum is wearing a tuxedo. They celebrate by drilling far down on the numbers, even magnify Cohen’s spending success by already predicting October baseball nearly 10 months out.
That remains to be seen. So do some financial matters. Like which team, Yankees or Mets, will generate largest ticket revenue? Or which network, YES or SNY, will record higher viewership numbers? Will Cohen’s money, and the media’s dwelling on it, bring more advertisers and sponsors to Queens?
Will the large segment of casual fans, who hang out in the middle but are always looking to front-run, now hop on the Mets bandwagon broadening the fan base?
Will Cohen’s money, and the way baseball media obsesses over it, wind up changing everything?
SAL’S ONE-MAN RALLY
SNY’s “Baseball Night in New York” is a go-to show when it comes to getting hardball news and insight from a rotating cast of reporters and analysts.
Yet on Wednesday host Sal Licata could not contain his enthusiasm over Steve Cohen reeling in Carlos Correa. Licata, who also anchors WFAN’s overnight shift, turned up the volume. He was over-the-top, screaming stuff about how the Mets’ day had finally come and how, moving forward, it will always be about “World Series or bust!”
The only thing missing was the Mr. Met head dropping down from the ceiling.
Licata’s pom-pom waving on a show that has developed credibility was cringe-inducing. Yet while the panel seemed amused, panelist Sweeny Murti — fortunately — brought some balance to interrupt and counter the high-decibel, one-man pep rally.
Murti got the job done using some well-placed sarcasm/humor.
Murti: “Sal, is there really going to be a [Mets] parade or you just marching yourself around the studio?”
The excitable/entertaining Licata should consider limiting his Fan Man shtick to the radio. It plays much better there.
Phil Simms used to drop dime on NFL analysts who stated the obvious and made it sound important.
What about NFL analysts who take routine coach speak and present it as a grand revelation? Like Simms’ CBS colleague Charles Davis.
Working Lions-Jets, Davis, in the 4th quarter, made it seem like he cracked a secret code saying Detroit coach Dan Campbell told him: “The team that makes the least mistakes will win the game.”
Fascinating! Perhaps Davis should consider not talking so much during the first three quarters so he won’t run out of things to say in the fourth.
SCORE ONE FOR NBC
One of the more frustrating elements of an NFL telecast is a network leaving the air quickly without fully explaining a controversial call or play.
That’s why NBC Sports does it right with its Sunday Night Football postgame show. After the Giants beat Washington 20-12, NBC hustled on rules analyst Terry McAulay to give his opinion on the fourth down play that sealed the win.
Giants cornerback Darnay Holmes was not called for pass interference after breaking up a pass in the end zone to Curtis Samuel. On the air McAulay, as the replay aired, was definitive saying: “It’s clearly a foul…This is defensive pass interference.”
AROUND THE DIAL
Now that the bottom has dropped out on Zach Wilson, the media heat will be re-directed to Robert Saleh, his staff and Joe Douglas. Will the often-praised GM go public before the season ends? … And will those who have claimed Wilson was shafted by the organization, and some of his teammates, continue to be as vocal after Thursday’s non-performance? … Those sideline shots of Mike White’s reactions on CBS last Sunday, and Amazon on Thursday, helped his cause. The closeups further revealed White’s a team-first guy. … Al Michaels seemed to be a lot calmer working Jags-Jets. Then again, he was calling another sleep-inducing Thursday Night matchup. … The debate of the year in the VOS took place on FAN’s Tiki and Tierney show. It was all about those “upset” over Fox using NBC’s old NBA theme on its Big East hoops telecasts. Riveting radio. … When ESPN’s Adam Schefter first reported Jalen Hurts shoulder injury, Dan Orlovsky’s jaw dropped as if he had just heard world-altering info. Sometimes these analysts forget it’s only football. … Watching the misfortunes of the Arizona Cardinals on HBO’s in-season “Hard Knocks” is compelling theater. Outstanding production. Very sad stuff. … If Aaron Boone’s performance at the Judge press conference is a sign of future encounters with the media, his 2023 postgame sessions are going to be marathon gabfests. The man couldn’t shut up. … Will anyone who asks James (Guitar Jimmy) Dolan to sell the Knicks be placed in his cosmic facial-recognition system?
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DUDE OF THE WEEK: CHRIS PAUL
For receiving his degree in communications from Winston-Salem State University. The Suns’ star flew from Los Angeles to North Carolina after his team beat the Clippers to attend the graduation ceremony. Paul has been a huge supporter of the HBCU mission. Now he’s a proud graduate of one.
DWEEB OF THE WEEK: CHET GLADCHUK
The Navy AD deserves this belated “honor” for firing veteran football coach Ken Niumatalolo in the locker room shortly after his team suffered an excruciating double OT 20-17 loss to Army. Gladchuk only poured salt in the wound by swinging his ax so quickly after a devastating defeat.
What Randy Levine said: “There’s no doubt the Yankees have been, are today, and will continue in the future as the flagship of Major League Baseball.”
What Randy Levine meant to say: “Pardon us for getting sensitive while watching Steve Cohen spend money like a drunken sailor.”