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Just When You Think It Can't Get Any Worse

Mike SteffanosTuesday, May 24, 2011
By Mike Steffanos


I received an email last night from The New Yorker magazine plugging an article about Fred Wilpon that would be coming out today. To be honest with you, I expected a fairly boring read with the standard denials of foreknowledge regarding Madoff's Ponzi scheme.

As I'm sure you know by now, Fred Wilpon elected to go the non-boring route. In the process took a situation that was already bad and made it worse, taking shots at Wright, Reyes, Beltran and Mike Pelfrey and actually referring to the Mets as a "shitty team."

Reaction to this piece has run the gamut from bewilderment to amusement to anger. I thought Steve Popper got it right when he said Fred Wilpon came across "like a bitter caller to talk radio" in the more infamous comments, and I thought Popper's conclusion was dead on perfect:

I've got some bad news for Fred. If he thinks he's got a - let's soften this up and say, 'lousy,' team with Wright, Beltran and Reyes, how's the team going to look without them?

If Fred's plan here was to continue to show himself to be a dupe, as he tries to portray himself in the Madoff mess, bravo. But good luck to Sandy Alderson trying to pick up the pieces from this mess.

You know, it isn't like Wilpon didn't say things that most of weren't already thinking. I personally set the bar high for bequeathing "superstar" status on an athlete, and Wright doesn't clear that bar. There are legitimate injury questions with Jose Reyes when you consider the possible length of his next contract. Mike Pelfrey can be frustrating to watch at times. Beltran undoubtedly did up his payday with that awesome playoffs just before his free agency.

On the other hand, Wright, Reyes and Beltran are excellent ballplayers who have been really good soldiers for this joke of an organization. Indeed, despite their shortcomings they've all done a better job performing their duties than the Wilpons have in operating this team. If the Mets have become a shitty team, then Fred Wilpon -- the man who has hired the key decision makers that put the team together -- is as culpable as anyone.

There is speculation that Wilpon made these negative comments about the players to try to build support for a fire sale. If that's the case, I think it's safe to say it didn't work. It probably hasn't helped the perceived value of these players to potential trade partners, either. For Sale: Shitty Players. Cheap!!! Inquire Within.

I'm not going to spend a lot of time taking shots at Wilpon here. I just marvel that a 74 year old man born in this city and with 30 years' experience in this media market would make the basic public relations mistakes that Wilpon made in that article. But then again, Fred and Jeff Wilpon -- for all of their business smarts -- really never seem to grasp the most basic fundamentals of interacting with the New York media.

In fairness to Wilpon, I thought most of the article came across as human and sympathetic, but it's hard for someone like me who is really struggling to get back on track financially to feel too sorry for a billionaire who is paying an admittedly steep price for some really bad decisions.

For what little it's worth, I never believed Fred Wilpon was a conspirator with Bernie Madoff. It never rang true based on everything I've read about the man. I also always believed that he cares what happens with this team. This article certainly hasn't changed that belief.

Wilpon has a reputation as a good guy, and that comes across in this article. Even the mild profanity in this article made Wilpon seem more human and likeable to me.

I don't wish the man ill at all. I just wish he would sell the team to someone better equipped financially and temperamentally to own a sports franchise in this market. Watching Fred Wilpon shoot himself in the foot has become a really unpleasant facet of my Mets fandom.

If you are just finding this blog again and wondering why I was gone for so long and what the plan is going forward, read this.

About Mike: I was the original writer on this web site, actually its only writer for the first 15 months of existence. Although I am grateful for the excellent contributions of my fellow writers here, I have no plans of stepping back into strictly an editorial role. I started this thing in the first place because I love to write and I love the Mets, and blogging here keeps me somewhat sane. If you haven't had enough already, more bio info can be found here.


Comments (11)

So there I was sitting in the "sports room" on a nice Sunday afternoon watching the Mets in HD. The Mets were beating the Yanks 3-1 in the sixth. We looked like we were going to head off to Chicago at 23-23. It was a nice content feeling that we were beating the Yankees. After the winter we have had an this nasty start to the season at 5-13, I was just begging for my team to be relevant again. I just wanted the Mets to compete. Now they were. The Yankee (former Mets I know) announcers seemed impressed. Things felt good. I had a nice sandwich, a yummy brew. My wife and daughter off doing something. It was great. Alas, it could not last. It never does! The lot of a Mets fan is a sad one indeed. Inning seven was classic Mets baseball. It's like the characters in Bettlejuice are manipulating the baseball. So we lose, I'll survive but now Toobin (who loves the Mets) gets old Fred to run his suck (probably while having a few cocktails)while watching a bad game. Here we go again. More news on the many ways the Mets suck! I do not care what Fred said but damn Fred! Really? A reporter? David Wright? The face of the building of Citi Field? Stupid, stupid, stupid!!!

Mike, excellent job.I think most fans just want Wilpon to sell the team at this point and move on.I find it incredible that he is so tone deaf to the fan base that despises him, that he would make these comments.Right now, for weeknite games they seem to be averaging in real attendence about 8-10 thousand per game.I went last thursday afternoon, and the parking lot was 80 per cent empty 45 minutes before game time.If he has a fire sale, who will show up at all?One more thing, if i am David Wright, i would be circling the date on a calendar when i become a free agent.Not only do the Wilpons build a park to negate his gap power as a hitter, but even Kevin Burkhart last nite on SNY commented that David should be pissed off at Wilpon after all the charity work and dinners he has tirelessly performed for the owners and this is the thank you he gets.In the immortal words of Casey Stengel, Fred Wilpon is 74 and in 10 years he has a good chance to be 84.I just hope he is the ex owner of the NY Mets at that point

"I find it incredible that he is so tone deaf to the fan base that despises him"

I don't see any justification for the fan base despising Fred Wilpon, but if that's the case what difference does it make what he says? He'll be despised either way. Just another excuse for indignant hyperventilation about nothing for the tabloids and that element of the fan base.

Honestly, I think this thing has been blown completely out of proportion and should be judged in the context of when these quotes were taken. That is, during a particularly awful loss to the Astros when the team WAS UTTERLY ABYSMAL.

Let me put it another way: How often have you heard a manager say, "We stink right now"?

Wilpon loves baseball and clearly loves the Mets.

Before he made these statements the mets were viewed by most mlb fans as a joke of a franchise.How do these comments help change that perception?That's what i meant by tone deaf.Btw, do u ever go to a met game?The seats are empty, this clown of an owner is dumping team seats on stubhub at 50 to 80 per cent discounts to raise revenues, while calling ex season ticket holders to pony up for season or partial plans at full price and there is no buzz in a 3 year old stadium and u think these comments are being blown out of proportions??Either you are not a met fan,you enjoy losing or ypu are not paying attention.Wilpon has earned the ire of met fans.He will be all over the front pages and back pages today and he has nobody to blame but himself.Please sell the team, you have done enough damage, Fred.

Um, I've been a Met fan since '62, I agonize over every loss and if I wasn't paying attention WTF would I be doing reading Mike's excellent posts?

That's just flat out insulting. No place for that.

What a great opine!

Yes his brat self came out. The spoilt heiress who lost his fortune. I for one have long missed Nelson Doubleday. My biggest issue is OMAR built back the credibility of this franchise including signing THE best center fielder in the history of the mets AFTER the years in which Barry Larkin, Dave cone, Chris sabo, ken griffey, Craig biggio, even mike Hampton, mike mussina declined to come to the mets. Thank you Fred that era waits us again.

I desperately hope new owners await.

I find it most interesting that NY idolized Steinbrenner, who shot off his mouth this way regularly, and despises Wilpon. Steinbrenner lucked into a ton of money with the Yankees (remember, he was going to buy the Indians and ended up with the Yankees only because that fell through, and he got lucky with his timing because he happened to be in at the beginning of the huge runup in values of sports teams because of the broadcasting rights), and because of that money, he could buy his way out of all of his mistakes. Wilpon has had exactly the opposite luck: he thought hundreds of millions would roll in from his investments with Madoff, so he committed to big player salaries that he now can't afford, and that has hamstrung the team. Yes, there have been too many bad hirings for GM and manager, and Wilpon deserves blame for that, but plenty of teams have made those mistakes without people hating the owner, who has spent the money and gives every sign of genuinely loving baseball and trying to win.

I agree that at this point, what is the benefit of the negative comments. The players have been dealt a bum hand and to point out the lack of's in Wright, Reyes, and Beltran does not help one bit. In fact if those players were not here how bad would the franchise really be? Mets have had some tough breaks, but was it not at Jeff's behest that they sign "power shortstop" Kaz Matsui (Fred did not mention that blunder)? I mean if your players were mailing it in, that would be one thing, but this team has been in trouble since Doubleday said adios! From the "top" this team has made some bad decisions and it's no surprise that it has trickled down, and the fans are suffering the most. We are all going through some tough economic times, but I would gladly change situations with the "brass" at any point. Don't cry about players not achieving their worth when the ownership has not produced themselves.

Last year D wright went 29 and 103 ribbys.The idiotic dimensions at Fred the Schmuck field took away at least 11 home runs by my count that would have been home runs at Shea.That's 40 home runs and upwards of 113 ribbys.Those are superstar numbers!!Wright had no input in building the stadium.The genius who did says he is not a superstar.If u check wrights numbers before he was forced to play in the grand canyon, he was on par for a hall of fame career by the numbers.The sickening feeling i had after the back to back collapses has returned courtesy of Fred the Schmuck.Please sell the team Fred..

Guys, thanks for all of the great comments. It's been quiet a while since we had a good lively debate like this one.

One thing I would point out is that while some fans hate the Wilpons and some like me don't, I think most of us are getting kind of tired of them.

Mike,

A beautifully written post. I thoroughly enjoyed reading it and have shared the same wish as you that the Wilpons will sell and not let his ego and pride prevent the organization and its fans from enjoying baseball again.

Jeff

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