The New York Mets are still clinging to a slim lead in the National League East as the MLB season reaches its midpoint. Leave it to Bobby Bonilla to remind them that they are not that far removed from the bad ol’ days.
“Bobby Bonilla Day” rolls around each July 1 to remind Mets fans of awful decisions by the previous ownership. The long-retired outfielder will continue collecting annual $1.19 million checks from the Mets through 2035.
Now, a commercial shows how Bonilla has found a new way to cash in on cashing in.
The condensed explanation of ‘Bobby Bonilla Day’
Something has gone wrong when Bonilla, 58, who retired in 2001, makes $1,193,248 this season while young sensation Vlad Guerrero Jr. earns $605,000.
Here’s why Bonilla will keep pulling down that salary for another 14 years:
The Mets released Bonilla on Jan. 3, 2000, with $5.9 million due on his contract. Rather than cough up a lump sum, the Mets agreed to make 25 annual payments of almost $1.2 million in exchange for Bonilla waiting until 2011 to start collecting.
The Wilpon and Katz families didn’t mind paying more over the long haul because they were booking tidy annual gains for portfolios managed by Bernie Madoff. They calculated that they would come out ahead by letting Madoff turn the $5.9 million into a larger pile of money before they had to start paying Bonilla.
Allw as well until authorities figured out that Madoff ran a Ponzi scheme. The Mets’ then-owners lost substantial amounts. With money tight, they ran the team on a budget more suited to small-market teams for more than a decade until selling last winter.
Bobby Bonilla’s commercial makes light of the deferred money
Even Steve Cohen, the new Mets owner on the hook for the remainder of Bonilla’s contract, must get a chuckle out of the commercial that just dropped for Mint Mobile, a wireless phone provider touting a special offer of $100 annual service on a 25-year contract.
The ad is a splendid parody of the those that former MLB slugger Frank Thomas does for a testosterone-replenishment supplement. Actor Ryan Reynolds, an investor in Mint Mobile, concedes the one-day offer makes “makes zero financial sense.” On the other hand, the publicity should be worth millions.
The best line in the commercial, staged in a fitness center, comes from a man pointing out that Bonilla “looks like he could still get paid to play.”
The second-best line associated with the promotion is in fine print on the wireless firm’s website, which notes that terms and conditions “are subject to change and may be modified or terminated at any time without notice, unlike Bobby’s other deal. Mint Mobile reserves the right to buy back The Bobby Bonilla Plan under certain conditions. But we’re mostly just impressed that you’re interested, honestly.”
Even Mets owner Steve Cohen is in on the joke
Cohen knew he was inheriting a lemon of a contract when he purchased the Mets, but he is teaming with Bonilla to make lemonade out of the arrangement.
Bonilla has narrated an ad for a Mets promotion in conjunction with Airbnb for a one-night stay in a suite at Citi Field, home of the Mets. It includes amenities like the use of a workout room and the honor of throwing out a ceremonial first pitch.
And, naturally, an autographed Bobby Bonilla baseball is part of the deal.
You just know he’ll sign it as happily as he signed that final contract with the Mets.