Party of Five cooks the books

Originally Published: May 17, 2011
Page 2

POFKurt Snibbe/

Welcome to another edition of Page 2's Party of Five, where five writers tackle five questions that the world needs answered right now.

(Or later, depending on how much time you have to kill.)

Today, we'll discuss the Mets' deal with Bobby Bonilla, a rodent running wild in the Rockies, grown men fretting about gold pants, some workplace drama in New York and the recent silence of one Mr. Mark Cuban.

1. The Mets' deferred payment deal with Bobby Bonilla -- $1.2 million a year for 25 years -- finally goes into effect on July 1. What kind of world did the Mets envision in 2011 when they set this deal up in 1999?

Thomas Neumann: To borrow a quote from "Ghostbusters," one of the finest cinematic efforts of our time: "Fire and brimstone coming down from the skies! Rivers and seas boiling! … The dead rising from the grave! Human sacrifice, dogs and cats living together … mass hysteria!"

Dave Wilson: I can say this: They didn't envision it being a world where Bobby Bonilla was a financial genius, getting $1.2 million from the Mets, $500,000 from the Orioles, and a $200,000 annual salary from the MLB Players Association, 10 years after retirement.

Jim Caple: A world much like the '70s, when averaging 20 HRs with 90 RBIs was a big deal, and most importantly, double-digit inflation would render that contract negligible by now. Either that, or that Bernie Madoff's 18 percent annual return on Fred Wilpon's money would continue.

Michael Philbrick: They probably planned to pay him with the sweet dividends they got from their and Enron stock.

DJ Gallo: I'm going to guess that former Mets outfielder Lenny Dykstra was their financial adviser at the time, and they did not envision a world in which "Nails" was not a financial genius. I mean, the guy had a car wash!

Wilson: I'm willing to give the Mets the benefit of the doubt. Much like when Suge Knight allegedly hung Vanilla Ice over a balcony to sign over the rights to "Ice Ice Baby," maybe Bonilla said he would "show them the Bronx" if they didn't agree to the deal.

2. The Padres' bullpen was attacked by a squirrel in Colorado. Will this be the highlight of the Padres' season?

Wilson: This is perhaps the biggest moment for squirrels since the day one went berserk in the First Self-Righteous Church in the sleepy little town of Pascagoula.

Neumann: No. The Padres play in Boston next month, so it's not inconceivable that they could be attacked by these guys.

Wilson: Even more terrifying: Those guys have added even more muscle now.

Caple: Good thing they don't go to Cleveland, where there are midges.

Philbrick: The only shot they have at an actual highlight would be if they changed their military salute unis for ones that only honored SEAL Team Six.

Gallo: David Eckstein pops by to visit his old Padres teammates and everyone calls it a "squirrel attack." I think the little guy has earned a bit more respect than that.

3. According to this story, the 2010 Ohio State players and associates still haven't received their gold pants charms for beating Michigan. Will this help the resale value of charms already in circulation?

Neumann: Yes. It's all about supply and demand. The only thing that could boost the value of these items further would be if John Cooper returned to coach the Buckeyes.

Wilson: Not so sure. Apparently the market's been flooded with other famous people (besides OSU players) selling their gold pants. And the Rich-Rod era at Michigan didn't help matters in terms of scarcity.

Caple: I'm just surprised Tressel hasn't had the Buckeyes go to that free tattoo parlor and have gold pants tattooed on their legs in a modern update of the "Goldfinger" body-painting thing.

Gallo: Tiny, gold, charm-sized pants as a reward. I'm going to call it. The end of the era in which college football players were seen as the toughest guys on campus: May 17, 2011.

Philbrick: I really don't care as long as the 2010 win gets vacated and at least one Buckeye gets mad at the NCAA and says, "They're always after me lucky charms." That's a win-win for the rest of America.

4. Which is worse: Having a co-worker who begs off work, or having to sit through a conference call with your bosses to discuss your feelings about it?

Gallo: I like to joke around as much as the next guy, but some things are just too serious for jokes. The Yankees -- AMERICA'S MOST IMPORTANT TEAM® -- are in a real bind with Jeter and Posada. And they have little more than $170 million in payroll beyond those two and just 11 other current or former All-Stars on their roster to get them through this tough time. It's a real tragedy. And I don't mean a sports tragedy. I'm talking real life.

Caple: I'll take the co-worker not coming to work if he's hitting .165. That's like not having Michael Scott not showing up at "The Office." Production and efficiency soar.

Wilson: Yeah, but his bosses woke him up with the call! I bet he was all groggy and not making any sense at first. Surely any Steinbrenner worth his salt would be annoyed that a Yankee was sleeping past noon, even if they got in late. "He was sleeping at 1 p.m.?!? I'd like to see that whippersnapper have to get a real job."

Neumann: Poor Derek Jeter has both! It's not so easy being The Captain©, you know. Just because he's dating Minka Kelly and just built an $8 million mansion in Florida and has five World Series rings and signed a three-year, $51 million contract at age 36 (in addition to about $200 million in previous earnings -- not including endorsements) … people think he's got it made. But they don't consider the fact that he looks more and more like Randy Quaid with every day that passes.

Philbrick: That depends. If it's the rest of us in the real word we're pretty much "Office Space" numb to either of those situations. But if you're the Captain of the Yankees, you could probably pick up some really valuable tips for how to properly throw a tantrum next season when you get dropped to ninth in the lineup. Here's one tip, Derek: Don't have Minka tweet about your boo boos.

5. Dirk Nowitzki said of Mark Cuban's recent silence: "It should be about the players, never about the owner." How long will Cuban keep quiet?

Neumann: I think it's entirely possible Cuban lays low for a while. During Cuban's ownership of the Mavs, the team is 3-16 in the postseason when Danny Crawford officiates -- including this debacle. Methinks Cuban doesn't want to say anything that could possibly upset the folks who make the officiating assignments.

Wilson: I bet Jerry Jones is at the Outlandish Dallas Owners booth at The Palm in the West End looking pretty lonely right about now. First Tom Hicks slunk away, and now Cuban's biting his tongue. And Nolan Ryan eats only hand-killed wild game.

Gallo: My hunch is that Cuban has been laying low because he's trying to sell the team. He made his fortune because he sold right before the tech bubble burst, so why wouldn't he sell Dirk and friends at the height of the Mavericks bubble?

Caple: Only slightly shorter than it takes David Stern to fine him.

Philbrick: Until David Stern fires the look-a-like he hired and releases the real Mark Cuban from whatever cage he locked him in.

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