Today in sports: what Bernie Madoff meant to the New York Mets, Tim Tebow's former backup managed to avoid catching Tebowmania, and the Washington Redskins prove again they do not run the tightest of shops.
'The Vig' That's apparently what New York Mets owner Saul Katz used to call Bernie Madoff, because he always paid off. 'The vig' is the percentage of every bet that goes to the house, which Irving Picard, the court-appointed trustee for Madoff's victims, says is an indication of how much Katz and Fred Wilpon relied on the miraculous (and ultimately phantom) profits generated by Madoff. How much they knew -- or how much they should have known -- about Madoff's operation will be decided by a jury trial that starts next month, but there's no question they relied on Madoff's profits to keep the lights on in the front office. According to Picard, the owners " "structured player contracts to draw out the timing of their payments" and would then invest the money they owed players with Madoff, and make a profit on that, even though at the time people seemed unsure about the source of his remarkable success. One senior Mets official at the time called it the "Madoff effect." [The New York Times]
Brady Quinn Has Some Thoughts About Tim Tebow And really, why shouldn't he? Quinn, who five years ago this spring was selected in the first of the NFL draft by the Cleveland Browns and then weirdly traded to the Denver Broncos three years later, spent the bulk of the 2011 season as Tim Tebow's back-up. There was crazy, speculative chatter -- fueled by just enough solid reporting--that the team was only playing Tebow to show the world he wasn't qualified to play quarterback in the NFL, and that Quinn would replace him as the losses piled up. That didn't happen, obviously: Quinn remained on the sidelines, brooding under what appeared to be a giant cape. He's now an unrestricted free agent and unlikely to return to Denver, which explains why he felt comfortable enough to throw a few haymakers Tebow's way in an oral history of the quarterback's 2011 season in the March issue of GQ. First, Quinn says "luck" was the biggest reason Denver made the playoffs last season. (This is a valid point.) Quinn -- who went to Notre Dame and in the past hasn't hesitated to wear his politics and religious beliefs on his sleeve -- also addresses Tebow's in-your-face style of quiet prayer and contemplation. "If you look at it as a whole, there's a lot of things that just don't seem very humble to me," Quinn tells journalist Mike Silver. "When I get that opportunity, I'll continue to lead not necessarily by trying to get in front of the camera and praying but by praying with my teammates, you know?"[GQ]
Oakland-Bound & Down Oakland A's general manager Billy Beane -- bless his thrifty heart -- has signed 39-year-old outfielder Manny Ramirez to a minor league contract worth $500,000. Ramirez, who announced his retirement last April rather than serve a 50-game suspension after testing positive for a performance-enhancing substance, will have to serve that time this year, and won't be eligible to play until May 30 against the Minnesota Twins -- which also happens to be his 40th birthday. It's a zero-risk proposition for Oakland: Ramirez is one of the best hitters in baseball history, and even at 40, he's probably worth ten times more than Oakland's going to pay him. If he flakes out and has a "Manny being Manny" moment -- a distinct possibility, since it's happened everywhere else he's been, and the Oakland Coliseum is possibly the worst hitter's park in the Northern Hemisphere -- they'll only be out $500,000. [AP]
The Washington Redskins braintrust is not a braintrust It seems that earlier this month, Washington Redskins defensive coordinator Jim Haslett met a man named Rod Denny in Hampton Roads, Va. and started chatting with him about the team's plans to acquire a quarterback this offseason. At the time, Haslett didn't know Denny posts on a Redskins blog under the handle "Rodskins," but he almost certainly does now, since Denny has briefed the world on the details of the alleged conversation. (It seems the team is very interested in Peyton Manning, would consider trading up in the draft to take Baylor quarterback Roger Griffin III, and is bluffing interest in Green Bay Packers backup Matt Flynn.) It won't have any real impact on what the team ends up doing, but like many things involving the Redskins in recent years, it just doesn't inspire much confidence in the the club's decision-makers. [NFL.com]
Poor Greg Oden For the fifth time in five years, Portland Trail Blazers center Greg Oden -- the top overall pick in the 2007 NBA Draft -- has lost his season to a knee injury. He's now facing his third microfracture surgery in five years. During that span, he's played in a total of 82 games. Meanwhile, Kevin Durant, the player who went one pick after Oden, is averaging 27.7 points-per-game this season, and is starting to become indistinguishable from Michael Jordan in his prime. [ESPN.com]