Jan 04

Worst curtain call ever?

January 4 - giants curtain As a lifelong New York Jets fan, I must admit to taking special delight in the total collapse of the hated New York Giants. I especially enjoyed their curtain call at Giants Stadium two weeks ago.

The team's marketing and PR types had made a big deal about a special halftime celebration that would commemorate the team's many accomplishments in the soon-to-be-leveled edifice. But, they failed to factor in a horrific first half performance by 'Big Blue.' By half time, the game was clearly over and, with it, the team's chances for making the playoffs.

But, the celebration went on and 80,000 depressed fans suffered through highlights of the greatness that once was and was no more.

It was a horrible curtain call, to be sure. But, not the worst. That notable distinction belongs to my very own NY Mets who, in their collective wisdom, decided to hold a huge celebration at the conclusion of the team's final game at Shea Stadium in 2007. The Mets, though, had once again blown a late season lead to the hated Phillies and entered the final game needing a win to force a playoff. Guess what? They rolled over and played dead, falling behind by five runs in the first inning. The team made no effort to fight back and ended up losing by a lopsided score. Fans left in droves as each inning passed.

By the end, there were fewer than 10,000 people in the stands. Yet, some marketing whiz decided to go ahead with the Shea celebration anyway, and the team paraded the great players of yesteryear past the shell-shocked fans. It was easily one of the weirdest scenes I've ever witnessed.

So, note to sports marketers everywhere: if you have a mega, anniversary-themed event in the making, be sure to hold it BEFORE the contest begins. And, force the home team players to watch the hoopla. Maybe it'll inspire better performances than those turned in by the '09 Giants and '07 Mets, respectively.

Nov 30

The uniforms aren’t the problem

Guest Post by Isaac Farbowitz

November 30 - AT 5-20 SeaverMetsUniform “The New York Mets today announced they will wear a new pinstripe home uniform next season inspired by the early years of the franchise. The design combines new and old elements of Mets uniforms. The Mets created the retro uniform following research and positive responses to the jerseys the 1969 World Champion Mets wore during their 40th anniversary celebration in August.”

So reads a “News Flash” email I just received from my beloved NY Metropolitans. If you want to find an organization that is simply lost and spending its time and dollars in the wrong places look no further. The Mets just came off a miserable season, made all the more difficult for Mets fans as we watched the hated Evil Empire from the Bronx being paraded down the Canyon of Heroes after winning number 27. 

If I were working in the Mets front office and I was looking to reconnect with fans, every dollar and resource would be spent trying to field a better team next year as well as trying to figure out why half of my team spent more time on the DL then they did on the field. I certainly wouldn’t have done “research” to come up with new uniforms which, by the way, look pretty similar to what they have worn for years. To think that even a dollar or a minute was spent on this “research” shows just how far removed from reality they Mets really are. 

It’s amazing to me that this idea for the new uniform even got past the first conversation among the front office. Wouldn’t someone have said “Hey guys, I don’t think our fans are that upset about how we dressed on the field last year.” Or, did some guy or gal from management say “This is a great idea- we may lose 90 games next year but at least we can look better doing it!”

I think the powers that be in Queens, NY need to take a hard look at what the real issues are and stop “Flushing” resources down the drain. I think Mets fans from near and far should send the Wilpons and crew a “news flash” letting them know that the uniforms are not the problem, and changing them won’t put more bodies in the seats or W’s in the win column. If this is the best the Mets can do to reconnect with their fans, I’ve got a feeling that the summer of 2010 will be spent much like the summer of 2009- looking forward to NFL Kickoff Weekend. On second thought, after watching the Same Old Jets implode again, I might spend the summer taking up a new hobby- walking on hot coals. 

Oct 27

I thought we were making progress in a lot of areas

October 27 - Eric_Mangini(3) Earlier this year, I engendered the wrath of Cleveland Browns fans by suggesting that erstwhile Jets coach and newly-named Browns Coach Eric Mangini was bad news. I asked the rhetorical question, 'Why do sports teams keep recycling losers?'

Mangini was the latest in a long line of mediocre and just plain bad football, baseball and basketball managers and coaches who, inexplicably, keep landing new, higher paying jobs despite a history of failure. I went on to suggest such a thing simply wouldn't happen in business industry. When CEOs fail, they rarely turn up at the top of another firm; instead, they usually start their own hedge fund or venture capital firm with the cash from their severance packages.

Not so with pro football. Take a gander at this season and the performance of Mangini and his Browns. They're 1-6 after being drubbed on Sunday by the Packers, 31-3. And, what was Mangini's comment after the game? 'I thought we were making progress in a lot of areas.' My comment? He's delusional. Could you imagine a CEO saying something similar to Wall Street analysts after a disastrous quarterly earnings report?

Mangini made the same sort of absurd comments as the Jets lost game after game at the end of last season. He was always pointing to progress on one side of the football while the team was collapsing on the other.

Mangini reminds me of former Mets Manager Willie Randolph who, during the team's historic collapse at the end of 2007 season, kept pointing to the positives: 'We saw some great pitching tonight. All we needed were some clutch hits,' or 'The guys were hitting the cover off the ball. We just need more consistency from our bullpen,' or my personal favorite: 'These losses will make winning the division and sipping the champagne just that much sweeter.' Needless to say, the Mets never did win the division and any champagne that was consumed was probably washed down with scotch, vodka or some other sedative to ease the pain.

I'd like to see accountability come to the coaching ranks. If a guy has a proven record of losing, ditch him. Blacklist him. Suggest he become a media trainer. Send him packing. But do not do what the Cleveland Browns and countless other franchises have done with the likes of Mangini over the years. Do not recycle losers.

Aug 17

MICK AND ROONEY CODY, OTHER CANINE LEADERS, ‘INCENSED’ OVER MICHAEL VICK SIGNING

– Vow ‘scorched earth’ policy against eagles of all sorts – 

Lincroft, NJ, August 17, 2009 – Mick  and Rooney Cody, leaders of the militant  Dirty  Dog Underground movement headquartered here, expressed outrage at the recent signing of Michael Vick by the Philadelphia Eagles. Mick rooney cody

Speaking at a hastily called press  conference  at a local dog park, Mick Cody, the older and more vicious of the two Cody canines, said, “Birds everywhere, and eagles in particular, should be ashamed of themselves. The latter have just paid millions of dollars to Michael Vick, a man who has led a virtual ethnic cleansing of pooches (not that some us couldn't use a good grooming, mind you.) My brother and I are incensed and won't rest until the Eagles change their minds. Well, we may take a nap or two, but we won't rest.”

Rooney Cody echoed his older sibling's emotions, and added, “We've declared a jihad against eagles of all types until this horrific decision has been overturned. Up until now, my brother and I have limited our barking and overall harassment to cats, ground hogs, squirrels and an occasional mole. Guess what Eagles? You're now looking at a scorched earth policy and the mother of all wars!”

Other canine leaders from liberal and conservative camps alike have issued statements condemning the NFL team's decision to hire the convicted dog abuser. “We howled all night,” said Benny Barker, president of the NAAC (The National Association for the Advancement of Canines). Penny Pooch, chairdog of the AARD (American Association of Retired Dogs) echoed a similar sentiment, “Many of us in the senior dog community rolled over in delight when Mr. Vick was put behind bars. Now, we're whimpering in sorrow and many chapters report members literally walking with their tails between their legs after hearing the Vick news.”

All three dog communities have vowed to boycott (or caninecott, if you prefer) home and away games of the Eagles. “We're also planning a 'Lift Your Hind Leg' Day at the Eagles home opener,” noted Mick Cody. “Imagine thousands of area canines lifting their legs in protest in the Eagles parking lot before kickoff. That'll put a damper on any tailgating.”

Vick, his agent, and the Philadelphia Eagles organization were unavailable for comment. A spokesman for the Eagles did, however, offer to forward a year's supply of 'Beggin Strips' to the Cody canines.

“Bite me!” snapped Rooney, when told of the offer.

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 13

Hell hath no fury

July 13 - woman The alleged murders of erstwhile sports stars Steve McNair and Arturo Gatti have given new meaning to the old phrase, 'Hell hath no fury like that of a woman scorned.'

From what I've been able to piece together, McNair and Gatti both shared a fondness for the ladies, but made the mistake of two-timing the wrong ones. McNair was the apparent victim of a murder-suicide while Brazilian authorities say Gatti's wife is the lead suspect in his slaying.

McNair's assailant had purchased her murder weapon just days before, again pointing to the need for more stringent gun control laws. I'm not sure what Mrs. Gatti used to deliver the final knockout to her ex-pugilist hubby, but the odds are good she bought it recently.

Weapons of choice aside, what's with the sudden rash of cuckolded concubines committing the ultimate crime of passion? I'm sure there are myriad societal factors involved in each, not the least of which is the pro athlete's belief that he can do or say anything and get away with. And, I'm sure Mrs. Gatti's defense team is already preparing a case of justifiable homicide as the rationale for her actions.

Whether it's easy access to guns, sports stars who think the rules don't apply to them or criminals blaming society for their heinous actions, something has gone badly awry.

The same society that vilified Michael Jackson now worships him. Sarah Palin, despite delivering a rambling, nonsensensical resignation speech, remains beloved by seven out of 10 Republicans. And, now it looks as if the Bush Administration deliberately withheld classified CIA information from Congress. What's a reasonably rationale blogger to make of all this?

It all comes down to one word: accountability. The rules have changed and the guilty are no longer being held strictly accountable. Black is now white and white black.

If nothing else, aging and randy sports stars should study the McNair/Gatti massacres and think twice about their next liaison. In a society gone mad, mad women are feeling more empowered than ever.

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."
Milwaukee+Brewers+v+Los+Angeles+Dodgers+UjVmevbDfNLl
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.

Oct 31

Should Sports Management Give PR a Seat at the Table?

Guest Post by Matt Sloustcher

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On Monday, the New York Knicks cut rookie forward Patrick Ewing Jr., the 6'8" second-round pick out of Georgetown and son of the most famous Knick in history. 

According to team president Donnie Walsh, the decision took into account the Knicks’ troubled shooting skills. Other sources point to Jerome James, a fragile $30 million center that didn’t play one minute this pre-season. 

Whatever the reason, one thing is certain: Knicks fans are not happy. 

Over the course of his twenty-five minutes of action this pre-season, Ewing Jr. energized Madison Square Garden with a performance that included two dunks and a 3-pointer last Friday. Fans even chanted his name, reminiscing back to the days when his father regularly led the Knicks into the playoffs.

Make no mistake. This emotional outpour is significant given that fans witnessed an abysmal 23-59 season last year, haven’t enjoyed a winning season since 2000-2001, and had to endure an embarrassing Isiah Thomas scandal.

All in all, the decision brings an interesting question to light: How big a role should PR play in sports management decisions?

My immediate thought is “not much” given that weighing PR heavily doesn’t seem to be in the best interest of pure competition, but for a struggling organization like the Knicks, why not give something back to the fans? Jerome James’ 2008-2009 prospects are shaky at best, and Ewing Jr. showed promise in the little time he was afforded this pre-season.

Clearly PR and sports have become more closely aligned as team payrolls and revenues skyrocket. David Beckham’s gargantuan $250 million contract with LA Galaxy – more than 50 times the league average – is evidence enough.

Hopefully, for the sake of Knicks fans, team management looks a little more closely at the PR implications of its decisions in the future.


Aug 27

The Agony of Defeat

Remember "ABC’s Wide World of Sports?" The show ran for decades and had a memorable opening sequence of sports clips punctuated by Jim McKay’s signature line: "The thrill of victory. The agony of defeat." The latter was always accompanied by the sight of a ski jumper taking a horrific fall and tumbling head over heels into a snow bank far down the mountain.

The New York Mets are that skier. They are a brutal team that, no matter how much temporary comfort they provide courtesy of a modest winning streak or two, will somehow find a way to deliver the agony of defeat.

Last night’s game was vintage Mets. They were in Philadelphia to battle their archrival Phillies for sole possession of first place. As is their wont, the Mets broke on top for a sizable, early lead. In fact, they led 7-0 after four innings.Beltranspring2ug1

But, I knew they’d lose. In fact, I predicted it to my son, Chris, as soon as the Phillies scored their first run. And, sure enough, the New York Metropolitan Baseball Team ended up losing in 13 innings and surrendering first place. No surprise. It was pre-ordained.

Certain people and certain organizations exude defeat. I sometimes see defeat in the eyes of job-seekers, competitors or acquaintances. Other times, you can see it in the eyes of passersby on the street.

The Mets exude defeat. And, with two rare exceptions, they’ve always delivered. What must it be like to be haunted like the Mets’ players most certainly are? Despite what they may say publicly, all 40 men know that somehow, some way, when the chips are down, the club will cave. Talk about the agony of defeat.

Oh well, football season is about to start. And with it will come new opportunities to suffer with my other passion, the New York Jets. Like their baseball siblings, the Jets also find creative ways to experience the agony of defeat.

I can’t speak for other Mets/Jets fans, but this particular one is SO ready for the thrill of victory that I can taste it. Unfortunately, though, both my teams continue to tumble headfirst down that ski slope of life.