The New York Mets Sale Is A Good Thing, But That TV Deal Needs Help

The New York Mets Sale Is A Good Thing, But That TV Deal Needs Help

It’s impossible to be a New York Mets fan and not have heard the good news. The Wilpon family-who have been majority owners of the New York Mets since 2002 and part time owners for years before that- sold the team to billionaire investor and probably criminal Steve Cohen for a sum reported to be $2.4 billion dollars. Can you imagine buying a car and spending three years cleaning it, while the other fifteen years you spend your time shitting in that same car?

To think, back in 2002 the Wilpons said “For $400 million we can buy this team, do a horrible job managing it, have three decent seasons over 18 years, and we can sextuple our money when we sell it. During a global pandemic. While all the while we draw income from the team for ourselves, and also get ourselves a new arena paid for by the public AND get ourselves a TV channel so unpopular that no other regional area sports team wants to play on it, largely because they know we won’t pay them.”

We’ve all read about the winding down of the Wilpon Mets era. Well, the winding down of the majority of ownership. They’re still 5% owners of the team, meaning they still have an over $120 million share of the organization, and will partake in 5% of profits, assumedly. Nice pay out for failing.

But this isn’t meant to rehash stuff you’ve read about the sale or the team or anything else. Until Major League Baseball approved the sale of the Mets- and yes, the owners will approve the sale of the Mets because it makes all of their franchises more valuable because major sports teams only gain and never lose value – this is all conjecture. But I expect one thing to happen after the sale of the NY Mets: the sale of SNY.

SNY is the cable channel you can find the Mets on. And that’s about it. It’s one of the shittiest channels on TV, hands down. What brings me to that conclusion? Let me share with you what would happen if I watched SNY from the time I’m writing this through the next roughly 24 hours. Would you find the following programming captivating?

  • Amateur boxing from 9 to 11 pm
  • The same 30 minute long sports show from 11 pm until 2 am. One debut with 5 identical repeats.
  • Paid infomercial- 2:00 am to 2:30 am
  • Air fryer infomercial- 2:30 am to 3:00 am
  • Infomercial on medicine- 3:00 to 3:30 am
  • Different Infomercials 3:30 to 4:00 am, 4:30 to 5 am, 5 to 5:30am, 5:30 to 6 am
  • Condensed Mets game (they lost by 10) 6 am to 7 am
  • 7 am to 9 am- the same 30 minute highlight show from the night before run four times in a row. Disgusting.
  • Four 30 minute infomercials 9 am through 11 am
  • Condensed Mets game (they lost by 10, but at this point it feels like 30) until noon
  • ANOTHER HOUR of the 30 minute sports highlight show. So far that’s 12 shows of that shit in 16 hours.
  • 1 pm- 3pm Mets Yearbook, for the 1962, 1963, 2015 and 2018 seasons. Three of those years were washouts.
  • 3 pm to 6 pm-  A Mets game.
  • 6 to 6:30- Game recap
  • 6:30- 7:30 Documentary on the 2015 trade deadline. They’ve easily shown this shit 400 times
  • 7:30 -8:00pm. Documentary on baseball in the Dominican Republic.
  • 8:00 to 11pm- a replay of the entire game where Wilmer Flores hits a game winning homerun after he was traded and rescinded, but before he was released a few years later.

This is some shit. Who the fuck would buy this? 6 hours of informercials? 25% of the days programming are fucking infomercials. 6 hours of the same 30 minute sports show. Another 25% of the day repeating itself.

3 hours of historical shows. I’m fine with that, actually. 2 hours of replaying a beating they took at the hands of a better opponent. 3 hours of a new game, and 30 minutes of new discussion on the probable loss. 3 hours of a 5 year old game that was a turning point that the team almost didn’t have. And a 30 minute documentary that I’m sure has been repeated 200 times itself.

17% of the day has new material. 25% of the day are infomercials. How is it that Cohen would have to pay for this? You’d think that the Wilpons would have to pay him for taking a pile of shit off of their hands.

And yes, of course the Wilpons are in debt on the TV channel. Allegedly those infomercials and the lack of original content bring in $150 million a year of revenues. I’d bet the largest part is from being packaged as part of a basic cable package, a thing the Mets were 20 years behind the 8 ball in doing. You’d think if you own the team and bring in $150m in revenue you’d be ok? Nah. AMNY reports that the Mets are $850 million in debt in SNY. Meaning gthat the Wilpons are bleeding money out of the TV channel.

Understand that the Mets are partial owners of SNY. So the Wilpons are dragging other people down with them. This matters. SNY is valued at a billion dollars, but has $850m in debt. Mathematically, SNY is worth $150m. Which is more than what Cohen should be paying for a money loser that’s going to perpetually bleed as less and less people watch sports via a cable package and turn to the internet instead.

The Mets are unique at how late into the game they arrived for getting their own channel, and how late into the game they are at content, and how amazingly unprofitable they are at TV, but most of all, they’re just fucking stupid at running a business. Why?

Compare the 26 hour SNY TV schedule with any other viewing option you have. Are you tuning into the same 30 minute talk show 5 or 10 times a day? To the point, lets look at how other local teams handle this same scenario.

More of the same, over and over…

The Yankees share their channel in the offseason with the Brooklyn Nets. There are multiple MSG channels for the Knicks, Rangers, Islanders, and Devils. NO LOCAL CHANNEL HAS JUST ONE PRO TEAM. You would think the Mets would say “Jets Islanders Mets fans should have a home…let’s go get the hockey team with our colors for the winter and have a connection with the team we used to share a stadium with, so we’re not running so many shitty infomercials!” But that would mean the Mets would have to top the $25-30 million that the Islanders get for showing up on MSG Plus 5. And when you lose money at every turn because you suck? Well, you’re probably just going to lose more because you suck.

All he did was put a bad team on his back and got into the Hall of Fame…

Cohen doesn’t seem to mind spending money. Allegedly he spent as much on a single piece of art as the Wilpons did on the entire Mike Piazza contract. Let that sink in as to what this would mean for the Mets. So while I make it a habit of telling others how to behave professionally in order to look, you know, professional? And I get how Mets fans are so Stokholmed Syndromed to accept losing that everything I write has the impact of a genocide? Yeah, it’s time to expect more. Actually, that time was back in 1988. Like SNY becoming a channel, you’re late to the game for Mets fans who enjoy losing, but it doesn’t mean that you’re losers.

In the end, Cohen will be in negotiations for SNY. That’s great, I guess. I know my cable bill will go up for it. But Cohen needs a separate negotiation first. He needs another pro team, and I have just the one for him: The New York Islanders.

The Islanders have a nice deal from MSG because the Islanders Rangers rivalry was so hot in the late 1970’s and early 1980’s that at that point the 25 year old channel of MSG (told you the Mets were late to the game) gave the Islanders a very rich TV deal. The Rangers owners expected the Islanders to continue being competitive, and that never happened, so the Islanders were using that TV money to prop up a team that was so underpaid that the NHL instituted a salary floor to try to guarantee a product for the fans despite the owners being terrible. Looking at you, Charles Wang. Tim Thomas was an awesome Islander…cap hit.

You do know that at one point under Wang the Islanders had a national TV deal for $13 million and a local TV deal of $25 million on a team payroll that was $43 million and claimed a $20 million loss. If you’re bad at math I’ll help. $38 million of TV money, $43 million of payroll. This NOT considering advertising, the Canadian TV deal, parking lot revenue, T shirt sales, hot dog sales, beer sales, and OH YEAH ticket sales. But if all those streams never existed? $38m is NOT $20m less than $43m. Oh, and then with the NHL adding $5m to the Islanders budget for being a small market team? $43m is the same as $43m. And the Islanders had phantom cap hits not being paid. If you’re concerned with a Cohen organization being fined for insider trading, understand that the Islanders were 20 years ahead of the curve. And the owners got approved, even with one headed to jail.

Oh, does that Wang era and those statutes of limitations! How far we’ve come. There’s even rumors that if the Cohen- SNY negotiations somehow fall apart, the New York Islanders are looking to buy the channel. How far they’ve come.

But with Cohen? He can say to the Islanders- “We make $150 million a year. You can be $50 million of that revenue. It’s nearly double the MSG deal. You stop being on MSG 5 or C-SPAN. You get a home so that no channel surfer has to guess what channel the game is on every night. We get winter ratings without having 5579987 reruns of the David Wright story- which I am certain has been shown more times than we have viewers. And we can sell advertising at higher rates while having live sports, so it won’t actually cost us $50 million. Plus, we look like a legitimate sports channel.”

A second team a must. Lets face it, the Knicks and Rangers ARE MSG network. The Yankees have made the low rent Nets their 5 boroughs partner.  The Jets and Giants are major channel properties and unbiddable as a headliner. So what’s left? The orphaned franchise with the same color scheme playing 10 miles away from the newest mess that needs cleaning up.

And the Islanders absolutely need their own TV identity and home. It’s a no brainer.

Cable TV is a changing climate. Thanks to the Netflix model, channels will continue to go ala carte. SNY with one sport can not be a subscription service. SNY needs the Islanders- and probably more than amateur boxing- because the 45 actual classic Mets games will not fill another winter.

And a channel maybe losing money? That may actually help Cohen. For instance, say Cohen’s capital gains and taxable income is $300 million a year. But the Mets lose $300 million in that same year. Well, Cohen is effectively paying no taxes. The Mets can be a cost sink and Cohen will actually make more money from it. Also, sports teams themselves do not lose value, so even if Cohen somehow lost every dollar he has, he’s still a multi-billionaire.  

Fat Devin Townsend

This idea only works if Cohen gets SNY for pennies on the dollar. I’d think assuming the Wilpon debt may be enough to get the deal done. That type of thing never happens you say? Hmm. Didn’t the Islanders buy their practice rink for15% of the cost of actually building it? Yes, yes they did. Sometimes when people are desperate, you take advantage of it. The Wilpons are clearly desperate. They quibbled over keeping a $120 million stake of the Mets, which tells me $120 million means a lot to them. And it may be more than enough cash Cohen may need to buy a TV channel.

Knicks Gotta Knick

Knicks Gotta Knick

New York Sports have an unnatural relationship with reality.

Think of it as a super hot female model. Not the cute girls at the bar and local flyer bikini models that made up the last shitty Sports Illustrated calendar. Like a real smokeshow. She walks around and people just do shit for her. Buy her stuff. Act extra nice. And It happens so often that she starts to take it for granted. She expects it. She becomes self-absorbed.  

Yeah? Nah.

And we all know what happens when that girl loses her looks, or the next super model takes her place and they fall into obscurity. It’s not a pretty picture.

The analogy here is that because something is attractive, it often doesn’t feel that is has to work hard. Let me present a specific case of not working hard as you become less attractive: the New York Knicks.

The Knicks haven’t been relevant in 20 years. That wasn’t always true. Between 1993 and 2003, the Knicks appeared in the NBA finals twice, with two different head coaches and two very different teams, philosophically. That actually is a credit to management. Generally a team has a small window with a great lineup. See Golden State… or every team Lebron jumps tat to get all stars to carry his ass.

That the Knicks lost one final (maybe Pat Reilly should have subbed in Hubert Davis? Its why you lost, bro) and a few years later were back in the finals to lose with a completely different team – showing that Patrick Ewing missing lay ups and dunks doesn’t actually matter to a loser franchise- as long as you reallocate resources.

Guy had a J

But between 2001 and today? The most exciting Knicks moment was a cast off point Harvard educated guard that electrified a city. For ultimately a go nowhere team.

So we have to look at this body of work- a dead body, really- and we have to ask- why are the Knicks so horrible?

The answer isn’t so complex. I boil it down to headline envy.

The Knicks under owner James Dolan likes headlines. But not the right kind, like winning titles. No, he wants everyone to write about the Knicks, to refer to Madison Square Garden as the Mecca of basketball (wonder how many basketball fans actually know what Mecca is?) and to keep headlines because…have you seen the Forbes valuation of the Knicks lately?

$4 billion dollars. FOUR BILLION DOLLARS. For a team that hasn’t won a title in the lifetimes of most of their fans. The last time the Knicks were champions Gerald Ford was president.

He looks happy.

And how bad are the Knicks? Look at their present crosstown rivals, the Brooklyn Nets.

The Nets have made the NBA finals twice since the Knicks made their last appearance. The Nets aren’t able to keep a home, but they have more success this century than the Knicks have. And since 1974, are 2-2 in league finals compared to the Knicks 0-2, albeit that the two wins were in the ABA. But for NBA standards, since 2000 the Nets have at least won a playoff series- when was the last time the Knicks did that?

The Nets have been vagabonds throughout their existence. Since their NBA arrival in 1976 they’ve called Uniondale NY home, Secaucus NJ home, nearly called Newark NJ home, almost called Westbury NY home, and presently call Brooklyn home. No one wants to keep them! And yet…since 2000, more successful than the Knicks if you look at playoff series wins as a barometer.

This pissees Dolan off. So he wants the backpage of the newspapers by interfering with team management so trade for superstars, or stars, or by leading the league in ejecting alumni, or anything that gets a headline to disrupt his losing. Speaking of losing, how have the Knicks done with coaches?

I’m pretty sure the last good Knicks coach was Jeff Van Gundy. You could argue Larry Brown was a good coach, but certainly not in his Knicks tenure. The Knicks are presently looking at new and exciting head coaches, some with limited experience. And the first experience all of these guys get? Losing. Fizzoutdale sucks.

Same goes for the front office. Phil Jackson was an incredible NBA coach. And was an imbecile as a team President with the Knicks. The sole good draft move Jackson made was Kirstaps Porzingis, who he promptly alienated and ultimately read about demanding a trade. Why read about it? Because his ass was already kicked out the door, having done nothing but lose in his Knicks tenure.

But the management in between? Isiah Thomas did a fantastic job as team President and GM, and even better as head coach. The Eddy Curry and Zach Randolph trades comes to mind, as do all those bad free agent contacts to players like Jerome James and Jarred Jefferies. Then there’s that weird $11.5 million deal he gave to Anucha Brown Sanders. I don’t know what that’s about but it can’t be good.

And amazingly, after the sexual harassment claim from Sanders, Dolan hired Thomas to run the New York women’s basketball team, the Liberty. This is the lack of judgement that makes the Knicks losers. Guess you can’t sexually harass a lesbian? It did get headlines, which is what Dolan wants.

Couldn’t make that shit up.

Every team in sports looks to point to a golden age, but I’m a fan of the “what have you done for me lately” school of thought. And what have the Knicks done lately?

Be bad enough to miss the playoffs, but not bad enough to get a solid lottery pick? And why not? Because unlike say the New York Mess (not a typo) the Knicks will drop money at free agents. Where they do a terrible job with such- hi Joakim Noah! But just enough to make sure they’re picking somewhere after the top ten.

This past Knicks season had some promise because they were absolutely fucking horrible and had so many expiring contracts that they would finally be able to be big game hunters in free agency. And you know what happened? Knicks gotta Knick.

They lost the draft lottery. So as fans suffered all season with that little glimmer of hope for a brighter future, the Knicks couldn’t even lose right. Now I am NOT saying that RJ Barrett is a bust, and in fact he seems to have the trust of the organization as their highest draft pick since Patrick Ewing. But at the same time…he can’t hit free throws? WTF. Every game the Knicks lose by 3 or less will 100% be Barretts fault for sucking at fundamentals. He went to Duke. He should know better.

Luckily for him, the Knicks are usually blown away by much larger margins of failure.

The other part of the Knicks past season that gave them promise was the two 1st round draft picks that the Knicks got from Dallas for Porzingis. But you know what? Luka Doncic will make sure those first rounders are somewhere in the 20’s. The Knicks best hope is to package those two picks and see if they can get to a top ten pick, because a bench isn’t going to help this mess. All they do is draft bench. Mitchell Robinson, Kevin Knox, Frank Tkinilikiniaiah- but not Alonso Trier. No, he was undrated but the Knicks signed him because he was buddies with Kevin Durant. That’s the way to woo a guy.

Because Kevin Durant was leaving Golden State to hang out with an undrafted college kid. An undrafted college kid.

Oh, that was the other thing. The summer of 2019 free agency splurge! Who were the Knicks getting? Durant? Anthony Davis? Kyrie Irving? A combination? All three?

Howabout this- Knicks gotta Knick. They got fucking nothing. A bunch of castoffs that are serviceable NBA players, but no leadership. And their coach? David Jizzdale? That wasn’t a typo either. Will he lead? Has he ever? Guy is a career loser as a head coach. How he has a job is not only staggering, but also lends to explain why the Knicks are just perennial losers.

Sucks.

But boy did they get headlines. The next one will be for firing the coach.

So that’s a lot of bitching. What about a positive? How do we fix this?

First step- James Dolan needs to sell the team. He has $4 billion reasons to. Take the money and play with your shitty jam band. You’ve done enough. And not in the good way. Shit, the Nets sold their team and shitty arena over a billion, and the Los Angeles Clippers went for $2 billion. Take the money and go ruin something else.

So douchey.

Next step? You have a $4 billion franchise. Invest 1% in a head coach, GM, front office, and scouting staff. Maybe 1.5%. That’d be $40 to $60 million dollars. You know what you’d get? The top head coach and the top GM in the NBA taking a massive salary. You have a salary cap on players, but on coaches? Not so much. Yes, there are some staffing limits that apply to the players cap, but that doesn’t fall on coaches.

Is Blatt answering a call?

Next step? Draft well. That’s why you have scouts. And free agents? Be selective. Have a five year plan. Reevaluate that plan after every game. Do not be afraid to make trades, but always weigh the trade offs and opportunity costs in keeping an asset and moving an asset. Maybe hire a team economist and a team cap expert? Look at the present model that’s working- teams effectively shooting the three- and emulate that, but figure out what the next trend is- maybe defense comes back? Maybe it’s three point plays at a higher percentage shot? Maybe it’s a ten second offense? But for the Knicks, we know what isn’t winning- what they’ve been doing for almost 20 years.

Time for a change, Knick fans, or else it will be more of the same. Or more to the point, Knicks Gotta Knick.

*This article was written while watching two consecutive Thanksgiving time Knicks losses- to be fair, consecutive Knicks losses can happen at any time- but was inspired by Knicks superfan and the creator of the term “Jizzdale,” AMR.

Follow the author on Twitter @JoshBarely