Under new ownership, Mets celebrate Bobby Bonilla Day
NEW YORK (AP) — The New York Mets under new owner Steven Cohen are embracing Bobby Bonilla Day, an annual remembrance of a famously unsuccessful contract.
A promotion announced Thursday that allows a fan to book an Airbnb stay for four at Citi Field for $250 that includes use of the team gym and shower. The promotion includes throwing out the ceremonial first pitch before the Mets play Atlanta on July 28.
Bonilla was released by the Mets in January 2000 after hitting .160 with four home runs and 18 RBIs the previous season, when a knee injury limited him to 119 at-bats. He had two seasons left on his contract at $5.9 million, and the Mets agreed to defer his salary at 8% interest and make 25 equal payments of $1,193,248.20 each July 1 from 2011-35, a total of $29,831,205.
Fans have lampooned the decision ever since as folly.
“It’s Bobby Bonilla Day — and for the first time, the New York Mets are inviting fans to take part in the July 1st excitement,” the team announced Thursday. “Today, Bobby is back to work, this time as the host of a stay at Citi Field like never before, available on Airbnb. Bobby and the Mets are inviting four lucky Mets fans to experience a night at the ballpark that will leave them with that bottom of the ninth, walk-off home run feeling.
The team, bought last fall by Cohen from the Wilpon and Katz families. said the fans can request the booking starting at noon on July 8.
Now 58, Bonilla was a six-time All-Star from 1986-2001. He hit .279 with 287 homers and 1,173 RBIs.
“As a born and raised New Yorker and a longtime player in the city, there is a special place in my heart for Mets fans and it’s wonderful to see the faithful back in some green seats in Queens,” Bonilla was quoted as saying. “This year, I’m joining in on the fun, trying on a new glove as an Airbnb host and hopefully giving a few folks the night of their lives at Citi Field.”
One of baseball’s fiercest competitors is playing out the final year of his contract on a middling Nationals team. Lounging around .500 for most of the season, the Nationals stand virtually zero chance of grabbing a wild-card spot from the mighty Giants, Dodgers or Padres.
Should the Nationals stumble in the early weeks of July, they’ll face a momentous decision regarding their longtime intimidator. Holding on to Scherzer in hopes of securing an unlikely NL East crown runs the risk of losing him for nothing this offseason. His 2021 numbers indicate that Scherzer has a lot left in the tank. He’s in his seventh straight season with a strikeout rate above 30% and has whittled his ERA down to 2.19, which would be a career best if it holds all season.
A .366 hitter with positional versatility on a last place team is the platonic idea of a trade deadline target. That’s what the Diamondbacks have in Marte, a poor defensive outfielder whose glove plays better in the infield, but whose switch-hitting bat is a seamless fit at the top of any lineup.
Marte is a rare modern hitter who does not strike out often, and even though his home runs have disappeared, his maximum exit velocity still ranks in the 95th percentile of the league, per Statcast.
Since the start of the 2015 season, no player has more home runs than Nelson Cruz. While he has limitations as an exclusive designated hitter, the 40-year-old slugger and his .562 slugging percentage can instantly add some thump to any American League taker.
Minnesota has been the disappointment of the season, and with the Boomstick on a one-year deal, it serves them well to get something in return before his contract expires. The Oakland Athletics are in a vicious fight with the Astros for the American League West’s top spot. Replacing Mitch Moreland — the A’s primary DH this season who is slugging .365 and has been 28% worse than the league average hitter — is the exact type of move that could make Oakland’s postseason shortcomings a thing of the past.
Perhaps the game’s most anonymous star, Frazier woke up on Friday morning with the most hits in Major League Baseball. The Athletic reported that Frazier is “the next one to go” from Pittsburgh’s sinking ship, and his value has never been higher.
Buyers need to be wary of this, as well as the fact that Frazier’s batting average is 100 points higher than it was in 2020, so this first-half breakout carries the scent of mirage. Still, any team looking for a high on-base guy should call about Frazier, and they should be able to get him for a lesser package than it would take to get Marte.
Today’s brand of postseason baseball calls for a heavy dosage of relief pitchers. In Rodriguez (Pirates), Kennedy (Rangers) and Garcia (Marlins), who are all in contract years, teams have their choice of an assortment of right-handers to bolster their bullpens.
Among qualified relief pitchers, Rodriguez has the second lowest walk rate in the NL, music to any manager’s ears. The Pirates’ relief ace won’t overpower anyone with his fastball, but he’s shown a supreme ability to avoid barrels, and an elite reliever certainly doesn’t have much value on a non-competitive team like the Pirates.
Kennedy has been another diamond lying in the rough of a bad team’s bullpen. A starter for the first 12 years of his career, Kennedy excelled after becoming the Royals’ closer and notching 30 saves in 2019. He’s handling the ninth inning for Texas now — and doing so with a 2.59 ERA — though his bad habit of throwing gopher balls could scare teams away.
For the floundering Marlins, owners of one of baseball’s worst records in June, cutting ties with Garcia is a no-brainer. Unlike Rodriguez, he does possess a fastball with extra cheese, and like Kennedy, Garcia also has postseason experience. None of these relief options have the name recognition of Detroit’s Michael Fulmer, a former Rookie of the Year and another converted starter in a walk year. But Rodriguez, Kennedy, and Garcia could all be the difference between a team’s playoff run evaporating late in a game and locking down the critical outs that propel them closer to glory.
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19 Apr 1999: Bobby Bonilla #25 of the New York Mets looks on during the game against the Montreal Expos at the Shea Stadium in Flushing, New York. The Expos defeated the Mets 4-2.
Frank Franklin II
FILE - Fans watch during the fifth inning of a baseball game between the New York Mets and the Washington Nationals at Citi Field in New York, in this on Friday, April 23, 2021, file photo. The New York Mets under new owner Steven Cohen are embracing Bobby Bonilla Day, an annual remembrance of a famously unsuccessful contract. A promotion announced Thursday, July 1, 2021, that allows a fan to book an Airbnb stay for four at Citi Field for $250 that includes use of the team gym and shower. The promotion includes throwing out the ceremonial first pitch before the Mets play Atlanta on July 28. (AP Photo/Frank Franklin II, File)