The New York Jets may be laggards in the NFL standings every year, but they always supply ample grist for sportswriters during the off-season. This year they outdid themselves as they fired their general manager, Mike Maccagnan, less than three weeks after the NFL Draft had taken place.
According to most reports, new head coach Adam Gase did not see eye to eye with Maccagnan and that Jets CEO Christopher Johnson decided to side with the new kid in town.
I ran into former Jets linebacker and longtime radio analyst for them, Greg Buttle, on Friday at the PGA Championship in Bethpage State Park. “It may have nothing to do with Adam Gase and could be a host of other possibilities such as some personal disagreement between Johnson and Maccagnan that we know nothing about,” Buttle told me.
The third week of May is when the major television networks unveil their fall lineups, and sports was a key component at this year’s presentations.
NBC Sports trotted out a dozen former Olympic women’s gold medal winners onto the stage of Radio City Music Hall to tout the fact the 2020 Summer Olympiad will be seen on the NBC family of networks.
At Carnegie Hall, CBS had their top NFL broadcasting team of Jim Nantz and Tony Romo record a bit where they cleverly used football cliches as metaphors for TV ratings and advertising. They even worked into a sly reference to deposed CBS CEO Les Moonves by saying, “You may have heard about some of our personnel changes, but CBS continues to win our division!” CBS president of ad sales, Jo Ann Ross, came on stage wearing a CBS football uniform complete with a jeweled helmet to enhance the humor.
Fox Broadcasting CEO Charlie Collier informed advertisers how thrilled he was that Fox would be the exclusive home for the NFL’s Thursday night package for the foreseeable future and that his network will have the World Series locked up for the next decade as well. He predicted that his favorite teams, the Jets and Mets, would win the upcoming Super Bowl and the 2019 World Series. He was met by both laughter and applause from the audience at the Beacon Theater.
Fox will also be televising top college games every Saturday at noon with a pregame show an hour earlier that will feature Rob Stone, Urban Meyer, Reggie Bush, Matt Leinart, and Brady Quinn.
Fox’s biggest hit show last year was “The Masked Singer” in which celebrities croon while wearing ridiculous costumes to protect their identities from the panelists and audience. At the 2019 Fox Upfront Joe Namath came out in a deer outfit to croon “Luck Be A Lady Tonight” from the Broadway show, “Guys & Dolls.” Namath has a theatrical background and starred in a version of “Damn Yankees.” He can still carry a tune.
Fox will become the new home for the WWE’s weekly “Smackdown” show that will air Friday nights beginning October 4. USA Network, the current home for the show, will still retain the WWE’s other weekly show, “RAW,” which airs on Monday nights. It remains the highest rated program on cable television.
This will mark the 20th anniversary of the debut of “Smackdown.” DK Publishing has just released a coffee table book to commemorate the occasion titled “ Smackdown: 20 Years And Counting.”
Warner Media announced at its presentation that the WWE would be getting some competition as a new promotion, All Elite Wrestling, will have a weekly show on TNT. All Elite Wrestling’s two most recognizable names are Chris Jericho and Cody Rhodes.
Some New York Mets fans may want Mike Maccagnan to become general manager of the New York Mets. Current Mets GM Brodie Van Wagenen signed injury-prone 35-year-old third baseman Jed Lowrie to a two-year, $20 million contract when the team already had a surplus of infielders including incumbent third baseman Todd Frazier who has a year left on his lucrative contract. He passed on the opportunity to sign a needed slugging outfielder such as then-free agent Adam Jones during the winter.
The Mets also had a chance to sign free agent pitcher Gio Gonzalez, but Van Wagenen eschewed adding to payroll since fifth starter Jason Vargas is in the second year of his two-year $16 million deal. Vargas has been OK, but he rarely goes deep into games. In the meantime, both Jacob deGrom and Steven Matz have missed starts and Mets manager Mickey Callaway has had to start nondescript journeyman Wilmer Font, who was acquired in a nothing deal with the Tampa Bay Rays, instead of having the vastly superior Gonzalez at his disposal.
You have to feel for Mets first baseman Dominic Smith who has hit well whenever he has gotten a chance to play now that he has supplanted by National League Rookie of the Month Pete Alonso. Smith has expressed a willingness to play left field, but so far Callaway has resisted doing that.
New York Yankees general manager Brian Cashman has proven to be an adept shopper for baseball bargains. Last year he acquired the unheralded Luke Voit from the St. Louis Cardinals for reliever Chasen Shreve. Last August he acquired little-known reserve third baseman Gio Urshela from the Toronto Blue Jays in a cash deal. Urshela has played like an All-Star subbing for Miguel Andujar who is lost for the rest of the season recovering from shoulder surgery.
The New York sports media made it sound like the odds of the New York Knicks getting the first pick in the 2019 NBA Draft, and thus Duke star forward Zion Williamson, were far higher than the realistic and measly 14% that it was.
Former Channel 11 sports anchor, the witty Scott Stanford, can be seen on the free digital sports streaming service, CBSSportsHQ.com.
CBS News announced that veteran correspondent Steve Kroft is retiring and that Norah O’Donnell has replaced Jeff Glor as the anchor of the CBS Evening News. O’Donnell told me last week that her mom grew up in Bayside.
Queens will be getting some primetime attention this fall as NBC will be debuting a comedy titled “Sunnyside” with actor Kal Penn portraying a City Councilman from the neighborhood. The last time that I can recall a Queens neighborhood being part of a TV show script was “Dear John” starring Judd Hirsch in which a lot of the interaction took place at the fictional Rego Park Community Center. That program also aired on NBC. CBS All Access, which is the Tiffany Network’s entertainment streaming service, has launched a new version of the Rod Serling’s classic TV series, “The Twilight Zone.” Jordan Peele has taken over Serling’s role as the solemn narrator who both prefaces the show’s plot and ends it with a pithy summary of the moral lesson that we are supposed to take with us. The episodes that I have seen so far all seem to be an allegory about the Trump administration.