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What Does Fred Wilpon Owe Mets Fans?

Mike SteffanosTuesday, March 28, 2006
By Mike Steffanos

How about at least a chance to watch our team?

The last few days of spring training are trickling away, and still many Mets fans like myself are frozen out of watching our team play. If you happen to live in a town that has a cable system that doesn't give a damn about Mets fans, what are your alternatives? Well, it's looking more and more like Fred Wilpon and the rest of SportsNet New York's management feels that it's acceptable to ask you to flirt with alcoholism by hanging out in a sports bar all summer. On the other hand, you can move to a different town that has a more accommodating cable system -- especially if that system happens to own part of Fred's shiny new network. What? You don't want to move? Hey, that's not Fred's problem. He'll be watching Mets games this summer.

Okay, I admit it. That was a silly cheap shot at Fred Wilpon, who by all accounts is a decent man. He seems to care about his team's fans more than most of the money-grubbing carpetbaggers who typically own sports franchises these days. Fred has taken a lot of shots from Mets fans over the years, some deserved, some not. To me, the only thing he has been guilty of as an owner is lacking decisiveness and consistency of purpose in operating the Mets. Until now.

By choosing to start his own regional sports network, Mr. Wilpon was willing to jump on the latest bandwagon in sports -- where the loyal fans of a team are cynically played against cable system operators in a tug-o-war of greed. Want to watch the Mets games? Get on the phone with your cable company. What if your cable company refuses to add the network? Blame them -- don't blame Mr. Wilpon and company.

Except for the fact that is was quite predictable, indeed inevitable, that many Mets fans would be frozen out in this manner. In the same way that in war there is an "acceptable" level of casualties in every battle, I'm sure that Fred and his partners look at people like me as "acceptable" casualties in their battle to cash in on Mets fans' loyalty to our team. Admittedly, in a free market capitalist system, Mr. Wilpon is certainly not breaking any laws here.

You know what, though -- if nothing else, Fred Wilpon owes us at least the chance of watching our team. For those of us that are pawns in the game between cable monopolies and Mr. Wilpon's new network, he needs to make a deal with DirecTV so that we have a viable alternative over sports bars and moving. On one hand, we hear a deal with the satellite company is "inevitable", then on the other we hear nasty rumors that SNY is playing hardball with DirecTV so that the cable companies that are partners with Fred can fatten up on impatient Mets fans switching to cable.

I go back to the day when ball games were on over-the-air television, when sitting through Rheingold commercials was the price you paid to follow your team. I know those days are gone forever. Fred Wilpon didn't invent the regional sports network, but he's shown that he's willing to exploit that golden goose to turn a little more profit. Fine -- knock yourself out, sir. Just give those of us standing out in the cold a chance. Come to an agreement with DirecTV, and then I'll get off your back.

Comments (5)

I think that a great idea for Fred Wilpon would be to move his team to Brooklyn. Expand the SkyPark ballpark, and call them the Brooklyn Mets.

The Mets were created to sop up the disenfranchised Giants/Dodgers fans. Locating in the Bronx/Brooklyn was perceived as too partisan. But today's fan dynamics are different. Moving to Brooklyn would be a goldmine. Go where the money is. Follow the money, and it leads to the fans. Nowhere would there be more fans than in Brooklyn. The needs of the few are outweighed by the needs of the many. Hate to use Star Trekian Vulcan logic, but it fit.

Would Mets fans remain loyal? Would Steinbrenner try to use the courts to block them off? Remember, once upon a time, the Giants allowed the Yankees to build their home ballpark within a mile of their Polo Grounds.

Bill Burgess

It's interesting, but I believe if they tried to do this now it would just delay the opening of the new park.

huge mets fan, but i`ve got where i can send fred wilpon a personal letter, really appreciate any help you can give me thank you very much.

Sorry, Rob, I don't.

Dear Mr. Wilpon,
I've been a coach now for 4 years in Baseball in South Florida and I won 3 championships.
Mr. Wilpon, you invested a lot of money in this team and I think Carlos Delgato been playing in the Major Leagues 10 years and doesn't know english. How can Mr. Manual coach a person that speaks spanish? And to be in this country 10 years earning American Dollars I would WANT TO LEARN ENGLISH!
Mr. Wilpon, last year I will never forget this, the whole team traveled by bus to Fort Lauderdale, Florida for a spring training game but, Padro Martinez dove his Jaguar to the park with his kids! He did not stretch and you where their talking to hi mwhile he was throwing 80 MPH warming up and he did not once stretch his arms. No wonder he went right on the DL.
David Wright warmed up in the club house at spring training not on the field...That is a big problem. Everybody should be treated the same. The rules should be the same for everybody no matter what the salary is! Jose Reyes is NO role model for ANYBODY in sports! He throws his glove, he shaves his eye brows and he is far from a professional.
And FYI.....Oliver Perez should have been sent down to Triple A to make him HUMBLE. By the way, Omar Minaya is making this an ALL spanish team. Like he gave a 40 year old player that was washed up know as Alou. No other team woild have gave him 7 million dollars in 1 year.
Ive been a Met Fan for 35 years and money doesn't buy you championships!! START being an OWNER!! You have a lot more problems to come your way in the future because of too many egos.the greatest coach cannot win with this teams attitude.
TRUE MET FAN and I care a lot!!
Mario Lagasi

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