Why is anyone ever surprised when Fred Wilpon and his ownership group find themselves in a vortex of controversies of their own making?
Between the article in the New Yorker and the upcoming SI piece, Fred Wilpon has made the same mistakes over and over and over again. Since 1987, the first year Wilpon’s role changed from minority owner to full partner, the Mets have spent millions and millions of dollars on mostly inferior talent. With the exception of the NL East title 1988 ( the last gasp of Frank Cashen’s franchise rebuild), the Bobby Valentine-led back-to-back postseason appearances in 99-00 and a division title in 2006, the Wilpon Mets have been a complete and utter mess.
Vicious office politics (while the team was co-owned with Nelson Doubleday, team executives who were brought in by Wilpon after the “merger” fought bitterly with the incumbent Doubleday loyalists), a muddled chain of command that is nearly always blamed on COO Jeff Wilpon (which is less true than you think, but still a problem), and a public relations department that continues to be unable (or unwilling) to convince the ownership group to avoid looking like buffoons.
When Erin Arvedlund first talked about the effects of the Bernie Madoff scandal as it pertained to Fred Wilpon, Saul Katz and Sterling Equities, Mets fans took sides. Why? Unless you are related to Fred Wilpon or work for him, why would anyone care? The Mets might be owned by Fred Wilpon, but they are not his team, they are your team.
Your team is in trouble, Mets fans. Your shortstop and your third baseman, whom you followed through the minor leagues all the way to All-Star status (and who still have plenty of All-Star left in them) may have to be traded to help the owner of the team recover from mountains of debt created by either ignorance, stupidity or culpability in the biggest financial scandal in history. And yet, there are some of you who think that “rebuilding” is a good idea. Maybe it is. But with this owner? Again? Hasn’t it been proven time and time again that whoever the GM is, the Mets keep having the same problems over and over and over again?
In a story, comically titled “Mets Prepared to Give McIlvaine Blank Check” in June of 1993, Fred Wilpon shareds another one of his visions:
“To concentrate on development — that’s exactly what we need,” said Wilpon. “Joe (has a great feel for recognizing talent, both young talent and talent at the major league level. Sure, he hasn’t been 100 percent correct. If he had been 100 percent correct, he’d be the owner here.”
Love that last part, don’t you?
Ten years later, this gem:
A big payroll “doesn’t ensure that you’re going to win,” Wilpon said. “We’ve learned that painfully.” – SI.com, 2003
Before Mike Lupica and the NY Daily News became Wilpon-apologists, he wrote this in 1996:
Wilpon never gets hit in New York because he comes across as the anti-Steinbrenner. But more and more Wilpon is involved in the running of the Mets, even as the Mets give their fans less and less of a show on the field. Wilpon is the one who told his fans all winter and all spring that Paul Wilson, Jason Isringhausen and Bill Pulsipher were ready to take the Mets to the “next level,” whatever that means. Then Wilpon set a cap of $26 million for this Mets team. It is pin money in baseball these days, and Wilpon knows it.
One better hope that MLB is covertly running the Mets until they get their money back, because then, a full transition to new ownership will run smoother than having to wait another two season for Fred Wilpon to “vindicate” himself. I don’t happen to think Sandy Alderson is here for the long haul, because I think that once MLB handed over 25 million over to Fred Wilpon, MLB wanted their own guy making sure it would not turn into a $50 million IOU. Even if Alderson is here for real, should he be subjected to Fred Wilpon? Wouldn’t a new ownership be the best to use Sandy and his Amazing Friends to rebuild the Mets?
I may be a biased idiot, but I think I”d rather have a guy who sold a beverage company for 4 billion running my team than a guy who spent half that much on his “shitty team”.
It isn’t what Fred Wilpon said yesterday or a month ago or after the Madoff scandal broke. It isn’t how he verbally threw John O. Pickett out the door once the former Islanders owner convinced his friend Nelson Doubleday to buy the team so Fred could be in on the sale, despite putting up less than a million of the 21.1 million dollar purchase price he “negotiated” with Charles Shipman Payson in 1979 with no investors other than he and brother in law Saul “I Got Balls” Katz.
It’s for the endless cycle of limited success and sustained bumbling at a ridiculously high level that you should choose the Mets and not Fred Wilpon, my friends. Every ticket you don’t buy, every game you don’t watch on SNY, every impulse to blame the media for the endless stream of asinine commentary that rolls off the lips of this ownership group, puts this man and his ship of fools closer to having to sell the team. Don’t be part of the problem, be part of the solution.
Choose the Mets.