The Mets make Bobby Bonilla baseball's richest player
The New York Mets may be tempted to print 1992 World Series tickets this week.
Late Monday night, free agent Bobby Bonilla agreed to a five-year, $29 million contract with the Mets, making him the highest-paid player in baseball and giving them a truly remarkable lineup. "We are all tickled to death to have Bobby in a Mets uniform," said general manager Al Harazin. No wonder. Bonilla, who hit .302 with 18 homers and 100 RBIs for the Pittsburgh Pirates last season, will be joined in the middle of the order by at least two other powerful switch-hitters: recently signed free-agent first baseman Eddie Murray and holdover Howard Johnson.
To win Bonilla's hand, or rather, both of his hands, the Mets had to beat out five other suitors: the California Angels, the Chicago White Sox and Cubs, the Philadelphia Phillies and Bonilla's old team, the Pirates. As late as Sunday night, Bonilla's agent, Dennis Gilbert, had no idea where his client was going.
The final round of negotiations took some 12 hours and capped a whirlwind month for the 28-year-old outfielder. In the end, Bonilla, who grew up in the Bronx, was won over by the notion that he would be playing in New York. Hard as it is to believe, the Mets' offer wasn't the largest. Said Bonilla, "New York City was in my heart.... The Mets showed an interest, and I said, this could be a lot of fun. It'll be hard to knock the smile off my face."
Badger of Courage
SI's Rick Telander gets the inside story on a mascot
The first thing I wondered was, If I die in here, will anybody know it's not an act?
As Bucky Badger's garbage-can-sized head was dropped over mine, the laces secured, the football shoulder-pad straps fastened, the collar snapped tight and the sweater with the big red W pulled over my furry brown jumpsuit, I knew I was at the edge of the envelope, just a few shallow breaths away from terminal claustrophobia. There was no escape. My window on the world was a slit the size of a Popsicle stick. I was forbidden to speak. And the smell! I felt as if I had been eaten by a yak. Death, of course, would come from heat exhaustion coupled with asphyxiation. But my real fear was that the process might look...funny.
Through the walls of my dressing room at the University of Wisconsin Fieldhouse, I could hear the crowd. The Badgers' 20-9 women's volleyball team was ready to take on Illinois. The band played If You Want to Be a Badger, and by god, I was.