With the Wilpons out of the picture in Queens, Bobby Bonilla Day has changed.
No longer is paying more than $1 million every July 1 to a guy who retired in 2001 something never to be talked about, a source of shame for owners who got involved in Bernie Madoff’s infamous Ponzi scheme and thought that the deferred money on a free-agent flop’s contract would simply be paid out of the interest they were earning on investments. Under Steve Cohen, it’s now a chance to look back and have a chuckle. The new owner, after all, is a legitimate billionaire, for whom Bonilla’s annual payout can be fished out from under a couch cushion.
In fact, the Mets have now turned it into a corporate partnership, bringing back Bonilla to introduce an Airbnb deal where fans have an opportunity to sleep over at the ballpark, in the lap of million-dollar luxury.
But it’s not just the Mets. In addition to cashing in the way he does every year, Bonilla has his own new endorsement, 20 years after his last major league game.
Playing off his famous contract, Bonilla is in two new ads for a cell service company, Mint Mobile, promoting a deal for a 25-year phone plan. Bonilla is billed as “Baseball Genius,” and says that his “secret” to looking so good at age 58 is “extremely long-term deals.”
In the second ad, Bonilla talks about the “hate mail” that he receives every year on July 1, and offers the phone plan as a sort of apology, calling it “the Bobby Bonilla deal of wireless.”
“So, we good?” Bonilla asks at the end.
For all the laughs that we’ve already gotten at the Mets’ expense over the years, we absolutely are. And now both the team and Bonilla are in on it. Welcome to the party, and happy Bobby Bonilla Day.