Jul 20

Who needs talent when you have teamwork?

Sitcom impresario Jerry Seinfeld paid a recent visit to the New York Mets broadcasting booth to
Jerry_seinfeld discuss everything from Keith Hernandez's legendary guest appearance on 'Seinfeld' to Lady Gaga's typically gross behavior at a recent Mets game.

Jerry told the viewing audience that he was really impressed with the 2010 Mets. In fact, he predicted they had what it takes to go all the way to the World Series this year. Jerry turned to Keith, and asked Hernandez what he thought. “Well,” Keith stammered. “They have a lot of heart, but the 2006 team had more talent.” To which Seinfeld responded, “Who needs talent when you have teamwork?"

As it turns out, you need both. And, as recent weeks have painfully shown, the Mets are mighty short on talent. To wit:

– They have an over achieving pitching corps that is now being chewed up by competitors.
– They have a less than formidable closer who is now being chewed up by competitors.
– They have an injury-prone shortstop/lead-off man who always seems to spend more time on the injury list than on the field.
– They have two outfielders who, in the grand tradition of Jim Fregosi, George Foster, Bobby Bonilla and Mo Vaughn, are clearly past their prime (read: over-the-hill).
– They have a general manager who makes all the wrong moves and should have been fired last season.

That said, the 2010 Mets do seem to pull together and support one another when the chips are down. But, that's not enough.

Teamwork alone isn't enough in business either. We need talented people who can strategize, write well, doggedly pursue the media and be creative when they hit stone walls. It's important that they get along and be supportive, but 'team' without talent gets you only so far.

The Mets are finding that out as we speak. They've lost four straight series and were crucified last night by the lowly Arizona Diamondbacks. Jerry Seinfeld knows humor, but he doesn't know baseball. Talent is just as important as teamwork.

Jul 14

A different type of pitch for this PR guy

Pictures 060 Thanks to freelance publicist extraordinaire Greg Schmalz, this blogger had the opportunity to throw out the ceremonial first pitch at last Friday night's Lakewood BlueClaws game.

Now, that may not seem like a big deal to most of you, but to a guy who grew up loving all things baseball, it was huge. I'd even call it a bucket list kind of thing.

It was unbelievably cool to take the mound in front of 7,200 fans (most of whom had naturally turned out to see the heralded RepMan's pitching debut). And, I need to thank Tommy Powers, the David Clyde of credit unions, for warming me up prior to my big moment.

Once given the ball, I'm pleased to report that I grooved a high, hard one right down Broadway and smack into the catcher's mitt. In fact, I think I spied a feint puff of dust explode from his mitt as a result of the ball's impact. And, like a crack addict, once I'd thrown one pitch, I needed to throw more. Lots more. I was ready to toss seven or eight strong innings had the BlueClaws felt the need to call upon the skills of a crafty, veteran lefty. Alas, no such summons was forthcoming and I dutifully returned to my seat in the stands.

Now that I've thrown out the first pitch in a professional baseball game, I need to move on to new, and even cooler, challenges. Maybe Sir Paul McCartney needs a stand-up comedian to open for him on his next tour? Maybe not.

Jun 15

Do I want my ashes placed in an urn with a Mets or Jets logo?

There's a fascinating article in today's New York Times sports section about the inroads being
Casket1102 made by licensing in such sports as baseball and football.
For a mere $4,000, one can now choose to spend eternity in a casket emblazoned with his favorite team's logo. Logo-adorned urns, which would be my vessel of choice for traveling to the after world, cost a mere $799.

Talk about a bargain!
Licensing is a big business for sports leagues. (Note: in the interests of transparency, I should report that Peppercom is one of the few, if not only, PR firms with its own licensing division.) According to The Licensing Letter, Major League Baseball alone will rake in $2.75 billion in sales of licensed goods this year. That enough to fill an awful lot of cemeteries.
Of course, branded merchandise extends far beyond burial items, but why not go beyond just caskets and urns and create a fully-branded death and bereavement experience? I'd probably opt for a Jets afterlife experience (since they've killed my joy less often than the Mets have). So, I envision the following:
  – Joe Namath jerseys for those kind enough to eulogize me
  – Freeman McNeil sweat pants for mourners who will be spending the weekend at my wake and funeral. Why not provide some branded casual wear for their use during downtime?
  – I'd like the funeral home to use green and white bunting instead of the usual funeral purple
  – How about having the priest wearing throwback New York Titans vestments? Now, that would be cool.
  – I'd like Matt Snell and Emerson Boozer to be available to comfort my immediate family.
  – Fireman Ed would be on hand to lead one last cheer of “C-O-D-Y. Cody! Cody! Cody!”
  – Last, but not least, I'd like my green and white urn to contain the signatures of every player from the Super Bowl-winning 1968-69 Jets, including Ridgefield Park's very own Hatch Rosedahl.
Licensing types need to think large. Besides paying taxes, death is the only thing we can count on. So, why limit the afterlife merchandise to caskets and urns? The sky's the limit. Actually, since we're talking about eternity, even the sky isn't the limit.
I'd be open to any and all licensing suggestions: how about a green-and-white hearse emblazoned with Joe Willie's “We'll win. I guarantee it” Super Bowl III boast. Or, maybe a reunion of the fabled Sack Exchange? They could tackle someone from my life who caused me grief (i.e. a particularly heinous client or former employer, etc.). How about a grave dug to resemble the exact proportions of the new Jets-Giants Meadowlands stadium? I don't know about you, but I'd want to be laid to rest right on 50-yard-line. No nose bleed seats for this cadaver.
Put me in charge of afterlife licensing for major league sports and I'll make that $2.75 billion figure seem like chump change.

May 17

Why am I not surprised?

However anemic their
offense, defense and pitching may be, the New York Mets do lead the major
leagues in one key category: the single steepest decline in season-to-season,
per game attendance. And I, for one, am not in the least
bit surprised.

On average, the Mets
attract no fewer than 6,852 less fans per game than last season. That's enough
to populate a major city in Wyoming or South Dakota. And, I'm proud to say I am
one of those 6,852.

I've decided that, despite
a brand new field and a team that, for once, actually hustles, I will not set
foot in CitiField. In fact, I will not park my frame in a Mets seat until Omar
Minaya is thrown out for impersonating a general manager.

Minaya has done to the
Mets what the management teams of Toyota, BP and Bear Stearns did to those
once-proud institutions. In a period of just four years, Minaya has taken a
World Series caliber team and slowly, but, surely, decimated it. He's let great
free agent talent slip away while signing such $18 million losers such as Ollie
Perez. He's watched his pitching corps deteriorate season after season while
arch rivals like the Phillies and Yankees enrichen their respective staffs.
He's clung to overpaid and oft-injured malcontents such as Beltran, Reyes and
Wright instead of trading one or all for some real major leaguers.

The Mets are a team in
tatters. And, as long as Omar Minaya remains at the helm, I'll stand fast with
my fellow 6,852 disenchanted brethren and boycott the ballpark.

It was in 1973 that legendary Mets reliever Tug McGraw rallied his team
and Mets fans alike with his 'Ya gotta believe!' battle cry. I'll begin
believing again when a new general manager takes the helm.

Apr 02

An accident waiting to happen

With the Major League Baseball season once again about to begin, hope springs eternal for fans throughout the land. That is, of course, with the exception of Mets fans.

April 2 The last four years in particular have been a holocaust for Mets fans. First, there was the epic, record-breaking total collapse at the end of the 2007 season. That, in turn, was followed by another crushing, if not epoch-making collapse in 2008. Then, there was last season's impressive 70-92 campaign that was chalked up to bad luck (lots of key players had suffered injuries).

The truth about this particular assortment of Metropolitans is that they're a bunch of brittle, underachievers who sport a mediocre offense and defense, abysmal pitching and zero esprit de corps. But, as is the case in business, the fault lies not with the players, but with management. Omar Minaya is a terrible general manager. He's not only built a dysfunctional organization but, as it reels from one crisis to the next, he acts just like a classic CEO in denial (think: Ken Lay, Dennis Kozlowski, Pope Benedict XVI). With Minaya, it's always someone else's fault. Or, he goes with the Bernie Ebbers 'Gee, I didn't know about that at the time' defense.

Spring Training has been a horror show for the Mets. The always-injured Jose Reyes was felled by some sort of mysterious disease. Carlos Beltran elected to have surgery that will keep him out until June. Daniel Murphy just injured a leg that will cost him two to six weeks. And, the pitching staff, which Minaya refused to improve with off-season acquisitions, has had the stuffing beaten out of it in Florida.

Minaya's ever optimistic, though. As is his lackey, Manager Jerry Manuel. They both 'like what they see' whenever reporters ask about the latest Spring Training debacle. Both must be sight impaired.

Yes, Mets fans, this is the spring of our discontent. We have little to look forward to except, perhaps, the ultimate demise of Messrs Minaya and Manuel. Until the front office cleans house, the Mets will continue to be the laughing stock of New York, if not the entire nation.

Jul 22

Blissfully unaware (and loving it!)

Mets tomb I'm enjoying a whole, new level of serenity.

It has nothing to do with mountain climbing or winning new business in the midst of economic chaos. Nor is it the result of transcendental meditation, holistic healing or some other form of New Age mumbo jumbo. Nonetheless, I've been floating on sunshine for, oh, about the last three weeks or so.

So, what's my secret? It's simple. I've given up completely on the New York Mets. In seasons' past, I'd allow the Mets to ruin my mood, destroy an otherwise pleasant Sunday or, when they really went south, turn my late summer into a veritable holocaust.

Not this year, though. I quit as soon as the team did. (Memorial Day, if memory serves.) Since then, I haven't listened to their games on radio or TV, and made sure I avoided the morning after recaps of their latest meltdown.

'Not Caring About the Mets' should be captured by a leading pharmaceutical company and squeezed into a capsule. It's got more anti-anxiety and sleep-enhancing qualities than any combination of Xanax and Ambien could hope to provide…

Announcer: “That's right, 'Not Caring About the Mets' is now available from your doctor in liquid, gel or capsule form and will help you get through the toughest day (and night.) Possible side effects include twitching leg syndrome, shallow breathing, stroke, suicide, enhanced libido, decreased libido (hey, it's the Mets!), blurred vision, loss of arm strength in your legs and loss of one or more toes. Alcohol and use of meth amphetamines may enhance the effects.”

I like my new 'serenity now' approach to life so much that I'm ready to adapt it to the upcoming New York Jets football season. Like the Mets, the Jets are perennial losers who torture their fans with sporadic bursts of excellence before succumbing to an inevitable late-season collapse.

Yes, Virginia, hand me a few Jets' losses in early September and I'll be sure to tune out and turn on to the natural high of blissful ignorance. And, as Agent Maxwell Smart used to say, “And, loving it!”

Jul 09

Omar’s flawed logic

July 9 - sports046 Mets General Manager Omar Minaya keeps telling fans the club's fortunes will improve once the 'good guys' return to the line-up. The good guys include such injured regulars as Jose Reyes, Carlos Beltran, Oliver Perez and Carlos Delgado.

In the meantime, a ragtag bunch of minor leaguers impersonating as major leaguers have been playing. And, the word playing doesn't really do it justice. They haven't even been showing up. The team's record has nosedived as a squad once picked to contend for the pennant now finds itself vying with the hapless Washington Nationals for sole possession of the National League East's cellar.

Getting back to Minaya, his logic is flawed because the good guys won't make one iota of difference once they do suit up. Oh, they'll post some respectable offensive numbers and they'll go through the motions on the field, but Minaya has built a squad of individuals, not a team. They choked badly in two successive seasons, losing out to a less talented, but more motivated bunch of Phillies. And, they lack the intestinal fortitude needed to turn around this sorry excuse of a year.

Minaya and his current, rotten crop of Metsies need to be handed a one-way Metro card fare on the number 7 train heading west. It's time to blow up the model and, once again, start from scratch. Anything would be better than watching what purports to be a major league team botch yet another game.

Mar 12

Opening Day at Stimulus Package Field

(Public Address Announcer): "Good afternoon, ladies and gentlemen, and welcome to opening day at Stimulus Package Field.

CitiGroup, as well as the New York Mets management and players, would like to thank you for helping to bail out the hapless, reckless corporation and make today's game possible.

We'd also like to thank you for paying the ticket price to enter the gates today. In doing so, you've actually bailed out Citigroup and the New York Mets management and players a second time. Thank you from the bottom of our hearts (and wallets).

We'd now like to direct your attention to the Ben Bernanke Bullpen area where a U.S. Marine Corps Band will shortly lead us in the singing of our National Anthem.

But first, these notes of special interest:

– Those of you seated in the Timothy Geithner luxury boxes will be able to follow today's stock market dips on your personalized Bloomberg terminals. Please note: Citigroup shares are off by 40 percent since the opening bell.

– Those of you seated in the Bernie Madoff loge reserved section must vacate your seats now. It turns out your tickets are worthless. We do apologize, but it's your own fault.

– Those of you seated in the Alan Greenspan grandstand will, unfortunately, not be able to see anything at all. Mr. Greenspan thought "sightless seats" were especially appropriate since he himself never saw the recession coming. We suggest tuning into the game on WFAN Radio to follow the play-by-play.

Now, please stand and place your hand over your hearts (assuming they're still beating). We also request that those of you who still have the money to own a hat, remove it now and join us in the singing of our National Anthem……."

"Oh say, can you see where's our economy's gone?……."

Feb 27

There’s “Oblivious” and then There’s ManRam

I never cease to be amazed by the hubris of some professional athletes. While there are exceptions, many are boorish, brooding self-centered individuals who believe there is indeed an "I" in the word "team."
Manny Ramirez (aka ManRam) is at the top of the list. This selfish egomaniac has turned down a two-year, $45 million dollar offer by the Los Angeles Dodgers and is now taking his sweet time to mull over a revised, one-year $25 million proposal from the same franchise. 

Meanwhile, our country's economy is in ruins. Jobless rates are skyrocketing and the average newspaper business section reads more like an obituary.

But, why should the country's problems bother ManRam? He's above all that and undoubtedly relishes rejecting a salary package that's probably higher than the state of Michigan's operating budget.

ManRam should be ashamed of himself. And, the Dodgers should be ashamed of themselves for continuing to negotiate with a guy who, while being a gifted hitter, is also a major liability in the clubhouse.

So, what becomes of image and reputation when more and more societal role models like ManRam are demonstrating a marked indifference to its import? It's an interesting, if rhetorical, question to ponder.

In the meantime, Rome burns while the Dodgers and ManRam fiddle.

Dec 30

It’s the Same Old Story, Same Old Song and Dance

So, like the New York Mets, the New York Jets just blew a late season lead, missed winning their conference and once again failed to make the playoffs. Like the Mets, the Jets had a ton of high-priced talent and an underperforming coaching staff. And, like the Mets, the Jets will make high profile, off-season changes and nothing, absolutely nothing, will change.

Like the Mets, the Jets are weighed down by a systemic organizational defect. I'd liken it to a missing gene or synapse. No matter who manages which organizBrett_Favre_Jets_Football_sff_standalone_prod_affiliate_8ation, the team fails to deliver.

Neither team can be faulted for holding players and coaches accountable. But, in these cases, accountability doesn't change the fundamental flaws. To say it's discouraging would be to say that 2008 was an interesting year on Wall Street.

Jets and Mets fans long ago learned to adopt a philosophical "wait till next year" attitude. If we didn't, we'd end up doing bodily harm to ourselves and others.

I'll leave it to others to analyze the deeper fundamental reasons why these two franchises consistently underperform. As for me, it's simply a matter of the same old story, same old song and dance.