New York Mets

MLB player pool: Mets sign former Bryce Harper enemy Hunter Strickland

MLB player pool: Mets sign former Bryce Harper enemy Hunter Strickland

When the shortened Major League Baseball season begins, a notable name from Bryce Harper's storied past will be wearing New York Mets blue.

The Mets signed pitcher Hunter Strickland on Monday, and plan on adding Strickland to their 2020 player pool:

Strickland finished 2019 with the Nationals after being traded from the Mariners, but his relationship with Harper dates back to his original squad, the San Francisco Giants.

For the uninitiated, here's a lengthy breakdown of the infamous years-long beef between Harper and Strickland:

A short version: Harper smoked a pair of homers off Strickland in a 2014 postseason series, had some fun celebrating the second, and Strickland got mad. Three years later, Strickland plunked Harper, who then charged the mound, where the two engaged in a mildly entertaining, bench-clearing brawl.

Like most baseball beef, it was pretty dumb.

But if you're thinking about more fireworks this season between the two, you'll be sorely disappointed. 

Harper explained earlier this year that he's moved past the incident with Strickland:

For him to hit me in the a**, I'm not mad. You know what I'm saying? Like, it was definitely where, like, 'Okay, three years ago, now we're down the road, c'mon man. You got a World Series ring with it.' ... For him to come back, I respect him for the pure fact that he hit me in the butt. Because he could've came up and in, anything like that. And he just wanted to fight! How can you disrespect a guy who wants to fight? I enjoy that. And after that, it was squashed. It was done.

It's definitely some athlete logic, but I respect Harper and Strickland for having their brawl, and then moving right along.

The Mets' move still matters for Harper, though: last year, the Phils' superstar faced Strickland twice - once with the Mariners and once with the Nationals - and hit a home run in both at bats.

So that's something.

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Sixers managing partners' offer for Mets suggests team might be available for cheap

Sixers managing partners' offer for Mets suggests team might be available for cheap

Sixers managing partner Josh Harris and co-managing partner David Blitzer have been seriously looking at purchasing the New York Mets, and it seems an offer is on the table.

Harris and Blitzer have made an offer to the Wilpon family, who are aiming to sell the team by the end of 2020, according the New York Post.

Here's what that offer looks like, per the Post:

The Post has learned that potential buyers Josh Harris and David Blitzer are offering $1.4 billion for the cash-hemorrhaging baseball club without the team’s revenue-generating TV network SNY.

Considering the Wilpons pulled out of an almost identical deal with hedge fund billionaire Steve Cohen that would have made them $2.6 billion in February, the team appears to be on the market at a coronavirus discount.

Harris and Blitzer, who also own the NHL's New Jersey Devils, were first rumored to be interested in the Mets earlier this month, but are not the team's only suitors. Among the more intriguing names reportedly interested in the Mets: Alex Rodriguez and Jennifer Lopez.

Forbes valued the Mets at roughly $2.4 billion this past April, the sixth-highest valuation among all Major League Baseball teams and a 4 percent increase from 2019, so that offer from Harris and Blitzer certainly would be a steep discount from (perceived) market value.

The Phillies ranked eighth on Forbes' valuation list at $2 billion, with the Nationals (10th, $1.9 billion), Braves (12th, $1.8 billion), and Marlins (30th, $980 million) rounding out the NL East.

When Fred Wilpon bought sole ownership of the Mets in 2002, the transaction valued the team at $391 million.

This, of course, would be just the latest sports team acquired by Harris and Blitzer.

The duo purchased the Sixers for roughly $280 million in 2011, and the team is now valued at roughly $2 billion by Forbes. They then purchased the Devils in 2013 for roughly $320 million, and the team is currently valued at $550 million by Forbes.

More recently, the duo purchased a minority stake in the NFL's Pittsburgh Steelers, a transaction in the neighborhood of $140 million, according to Bloomberg.

Buying sports teams: what an idea.

Harris, the co-founder and senior managing director of Apollo Global Management, has a real-time net worth of $4.9 billion, according to Forbes . He received pushback in March for a plan to institute salary reductions of up to 20 percent for full-time, salaried Sixers employees making at least $50,000, then reversed course and apologized.

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Sixers' Josh Harris and David Blitzer interested in purchasing Mets: report

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Sixers' Josh Harris and David Blitzer interested in purchasing Mets: report

Sixers managing partner Josh Harris and co-managing partner David Blitzer hold identical titles with the NHL’s New Jersey Devils. Now, the two are reportedly interested in purchasing a third professional sports team.

According to a report from Scott Soshnick in Variety, Harris and Blitzer are “among the suitors” for the New York Mets. “Talks are still in the early stages,” Soshnick reports, with Harris and Blitzer not the only party interested. 

Harris’ purchase of the Sixers has been a fruitful one. A group led by Harris, the co-founder of Apollo Global Management, bought the team in 2011 for approximately $287 million. A Forbes valuation in February placed the Sixers' current value at $2 billion. 

The Mets might present a similar opportunity for growth. Soshnick writes that the franchise loses at least $50 million per year, not accounting for losses related to the delay of this MLB season because of the coronavirus pandemic. The team performed better than expected on the field last year, finishing 86-76, and has young, marketable talent in Pete Alonso, Michael Conforto and Noah Syndergaard. 

The Sixers have committed to long-term contracts for Ben Simmons, Joel Embiid, Tobias Harris and Al Horford, which leaves them projected to pay the luxury tax for the upcoming season. 

It’s unclear how steep the tax will be, but it will likely be higher than originally anticipated because of revenue losses related to the coronavirus. The league’s owners and the National Basketball Players Association have approved a 22-team plan to resume the season at Walt Disney World in Orlando, Florida, without fans in attendance. 

In March, Harris received strong negative feedback about planned employee salary reductions. He reserved course on that decision and apologized. 

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