This is the End

March 19, 2012

There’s always next year.  Oh wait…there isn’t.

I’ve been pondering how to go about writing what needs to be written for many hours today.  All through the day the topic has been bandied about by every Mets insider and newspaper.   Everyone talking about either the financial numbers decided in today’s “lawsuit” or their predictions as to when the Mets payroll will come back to figures that resemble a major market baseball club.

Very few, if any, have discussed the real story here.  I suppose that my blog’s name gives me some sort of responsibility to yet again translate the real story that other sources somehow fail to mention.   I do not take this obligation lightly, and therefore wanted to ease my way into it.   Well,  here goes nothing.

Today, the New York Mets Ball Club died.  There.  I said it.  It had to be said.

Huddle closer dear reader.  You see, we Met fans did not witness any sort of victory this morning as Fred Wilpon and Saul Katz exited the courthouse with their highly paid attorney to meet and greet the mass media.  No, we did not.  In fact, we experienced quite the contrary.  Magically, the Wilpons have escaped their wrong-doings with essentially a slap on their privileged wrists.  The numbers themselves, dissected with the precision of a neurosurgeon for most of the day today, are themselves meaningless.  Suffice it to say, all is fine and dandy in the land of the Wilpons.

Fred Wilpon and Saul Katz outside courthouse Be Gone With Wilpon

Fred and Saul are all smiles today. I am not, and neither should you.

 

Fred was quoted as saying, “Trying to bring the New York Mets back to prominence, that our fans deserve”.  I am not sure what that means exactly, as the Mets have not been a prominent franchise since Fred took over as sole owner back in 2002.   Sure there was 2006, but when you are a top 5 payroll team, you have to make the playoffs once in a while, don’t you?  Even if you underachieve along the way.

Ultimately, we are left to digest what this statement truly means.  This is where I come in to help make sense of it all.

The Mets have done little right from a baseball standpoint since Carlos Beltran struck out looking to a then underdog St. Louis Cardinals team.  They have developed little to no talent from their minor league system since the arrival of David Wright and Jose Reyes.  They have employed a general manager who not only came across as illiterate, but became the butt of all baseball jokes for some of his decision making on personnel.   They have created a new low for a sports medical staff in areas of incompetence and mismanagement of baseball (and non-baseball) related injuries, leaving us to wonder why they have employed the same doctors and trainers for so many years.  They have failed at any and every level to conceal news that shouldn’t be shared with the media, leaving us to wonder why they have employed the same public relations staff for so many years.  Oh wait, I just said that.  I think there may be a trend starting here.

Most importantly, before Bernie Madoff’s name was ever muttered by anyone who was not part of the financial world, the Mets were a failed franchise.  They had set a Major League record for largest regular season collapse by allowing a seven game lead with seventeen games remaining to disappear.  They have yet to smell the playoffs since then.  The Mets continued to spend money on the wrong players year after frustrating year, always culminating in the same result.  Failure.  The truth of the matter is, if resources were not the issue, then wouldn’t smart baseball people have cultivated a better result.  At the very least, wouldn’t they have sniffed the playoffs in one year since then?

The key term above is smart.  This is something that has severely lacked with the Mets over the past five years.  The Wilpons have continuously employed inept baseball people, not to mention in all other baseball related departments as well.  This may be due to the fact that the Wilpons portray themselves as “family-oriented” owners, whereby they hire friends and colleagues to fill their various posts.  Good baseball people with solid reputations?  No, that has never been on the Wilpon’s agenda.

Even when the Wilpons begin to reinvest moneys into the team in the coming years, is there anyone naive enough to believe that money alone buys championships?  This seems to be the only thing that anyone has been talking about today.  “All I care about is when they stop acting like  a small market team and start spending money on players.”  That is all well and good, however it is not what will make this team competitive.  Unless all of the areas I have discussed are corrected, none of that will matter in the least.

Today’s news unveiled one undeniable truth.  The Wilpons are here to stay, and stay they will.  With this now immovable albatross, I fail to see anything to get excited about at all.  To get as cynical as I can possibly get, I will profess that the Mets will never again make a World Series appearance, let alone win a championship.  Well, at least in both my and Jeff Wilpon’s lifetime.  Contrary to whatever drivel Mr. Wilpon spoke this morning outside his joyful courthouse, this is the absolute end of the New York Mets.

Unbelievable.  If one word could sum up what has transpired recently, that would be the one.  Yesterday, it was reported that the Mets GM was taking jabs at Met ownership’s finances.  This comes from the same guy who was also recently quoted as saying, “We feel that we are going to be far more interesting to watch than most are anticipating.”  Maybe that was meant to be an indirect dig at the state of the Mets as well.  Perhaps it was a read between the lines sort of statement.

Regardless, Alderson was not pulling any punches when he tweeted, “Will have to drive carefully on trip; Mets only reimburse for gas at a downhill rate. Will try to coast all the way to FL.”  This has been the buzz on Twitter for the past 24 hours, and has seemingly taken on a life of its own.

Sandy Alderson Jokes Be Gone With Wilpon

Even Sandy Alderson can not contain his laughter when it comes to the financial state of Met ownership

One thing is certain.  The Mets PR department is more defenseless than ever when it comes to social media.  Not that they were very good at anything before social media became a prominent way to spread news and discussion either.

It becomes more and more clear by the day that the Wilpons face an uphill battle that holds little to no reward upon reaching its apex.  When the team’s GM has no choice but to attack the growing disdain for his financially strapped employers, where else can this really go?

The Mets enter the 2012 season as a virtual non-entity.  The only news that anyone creates or writes about is the upcoming hearings to be held in March.  If the Mets were not a New York professional sports team, they would be a complete afterthought.  Ticket sales will surely decrease to unheralded lows this year as well.  This will be extremely troublesome for the Wilpons, as they have publicly stated that they need the revenue from ticket sales to help them skate by financially this year.

All of this spells big trouble for the Wilpons and Mr. Katz.  However, as stubborn as this trio is, they will fight tooth and nail to hold onto majority ownership of the franchise.

How can they dig their way out you say?  Unfortunately, they have been afforded an escape hatch to this sinking ship.

ONE – Bud Selig,  Fred Wilpon’s friend and crony, had his reign as MLB commissioner extended recently.  Unlike the situation with the Dodgers and the McCourt’s, Selig will afford the Wilpons every opportunity to dig their way out of this debt.  He would even approve another loan or two if need be to keep his buddy in good standing.

TWO – The Mets have already found family and friends, the only people dumb enough to invest a collective $20 million, as minority owners.  This dough is being used to desperately pay off some outstanding loans, which will enable ownership to take out future loans in good standing when they need them next year and beyond.

THREE – The lawsuit pending has already taken a turn in the favor of the Wilpons.  The principal moneys that Irving Picard was pursuing in the Bernie Madoff case have already been dismissed by Judge Jed S. Rakoff in the United States District Court of Manhattan.  There are many sources who believe that the Mets may only be responsible for about $83.3 million.  If the Wilpons become responsible for only this amount (originally Picard was seeking $1 billion), they would achieve a stay of execution.  Once this occurs, the Wilpons will invest money back into the team in a matter of three to five years.  This will bring the fans back into the stadium and get them to start spending on everything from tickets to t-shirts to concessions once again.

Sounds rosy for the Wilpons and the Mets doesn’t it?

WRONG!

This scenario ensures that the Mets will continue to be run by inept baseball owners, whose only care in the world is the bottom line.  Unfortunately, this does not include a little thing called winning, regardless of how much they preach its importance to them.

Let us not forget that the Wilpons’ track record has been completely muddled with poor decision-making from the minor leagues on up to every post held for the big club over the past 25  years.

Finances aside, we can be assured that bone-head decisions will continue for years to come with the Wilpons at the helm.  We can also be assured that the Mets will never, ever win a World Series as long as the Wilpons remain in control.

This is true even if their GM stops cracking jokes publicly about them on social media outlets.

Let The Truth Be Told

January 29, 2011

One thing is certain in Corporate America.  Big business will do whatever it takes to maintain a strong and secure image.  When adverse times befall that corporation, it is easier to cover up the mess by pulling the wool over the eyes of those peering in from afar than it is to tell the ugly truth.  Even more, it is imperative to keep that ugly truth locked away from those that can come back to hurt the company.  After all, the truth can be deadly to future business operations, and to the bedrock that founded the company in the first place.

Such is the case with the Wilpons and Sterling Equities these days.  Just over two years ago, in the wake of the Bernie Madoff scandal, Mets ownership stated to its fan base that baseball operations would not be affected by the Wilpon family’s massive losses in this incident.  I am not sure how many Met fans actually believed this garbage at the time, but nevertheless, it was still the Wilpons’ decision to proceed in this manner. 

This mantra was all that was needed until more glaring evidence arose to discount the Wilpons’ claim.  Certainly ownership had to know that once the fans and media took notice of the team’s declining player payroll, that more questions would be asked.  After all, you don’t quickly move from free spending to cutting payroll without even the most numb of a fan taking notice of  this change in policy.  Such was the case leading into the 2010 trading deadline, when the Mets were still in contention for post-season play.  Not even a mild consideration was given to adding a big name to help the club at that time.  What followed was a second half plunge into obscurity, and another failed season.

Shortly after this, more evidence arose that proved the Wilpons were lying about their company’s business, and how it would relate to the operations of their baseball club.  A lawsuit was brought against Sterling Equities in regards to massive financial losses suffered by former employees in the Madoff Ponzi Scheme.   This was getting quite ugly for the Wilpons. 

More recently, yet another lawsuit was brought against Sterling Equities in relation to the Madoff scandal.  Even after this news, the Wilpons impossibly danced around the matter with the following statement.  “Regardless of the outcome of these discussions, we want to emphasize that the New York Mets will have the necessary financial and operational resources to fully compete and win,” Sterling Equities said.  “That is our commitment to our fans, and to New York.”  Oh really?

Well fans, how do these previous statements look today?  Apparently, the strain was just too much for the Wilpons to bear, because yesterday the Wilpons made an about-face, when announced that they will be selling a share of the team.  This is a complete contradiction to previous statements within the past few years.  Shocking isn’t it?  I think not.  Of course the Wilpons still want to maintain a majority ownership of the Mets.  This gives them the ability to control the club just as they have for years, and continue to do wrong for the franchise.  They will try to skate by for as long as they can, spitting out lies to the public whenever they need a new one to keep the growing opposition at bay.

Fred Wilpon Be Gone With Wilpon

Fred Wilpon and Sterling Equities are running out of lies to tell

What are we to make of this?  What we do know is that you have to take a big businessman’s word with a grain of salt.  After all, they are usually not the most trustworthy of people.  What we have here is an ownership group that has been lying through its teeth for years (or even decades) to its employees, business associates, and most importantly to us, the Met fans.  Some of us have been seeing this for years, and some have not.  Perhaps some people actually needed to see cold, hard evidence that ownership could lie to our faces like this.  Well, let the wake-up call begin, Met fans.  The truth has just arrived at your doorstep in a pretty package with a bow and greeting card in bold print.  What does the card state?  It states “The Wilpons are not the right owners for this team!”

I have been shouting about this for years to those who know me.  I have been blogging about it for just over a year.  My voice will only get louder now with this absurdity flying across the media mainstream. 

The question you as Met fans have to ask yourselves is this.  Do you believe the Mets will ever recover with the Wilpons at the helm?  The recent lack of success of the club, along with the airing of its owners dirty laundry certainly proves that a turnaround is not likely.  The next question you need to ask yourself is this.  Do I want such crooked men who obviously have bigger issues to deal with running my team’s “baseball operations”? 

Think long and hard Met fans.  You as judge and jury have the ability to have an impact on this.  If you feel that the Wilpons need to go, then you need to take certain steps.

1) If you buy tickets or merchandise, you support the Wilpons’ finances.  The best way to get them out of here is to slow down their revenue flow.  There is not much you can do about the large quantity of money they garner from SNY.  However, ticket sales, vending, parking and merchandise are certainly items that you can control.

2) Even more important than step number one.  Spread the word to other Met fans.  Tell them to follow step one, and what the consequences are if they continue to line the Wilpons’ pockets with additional sources of revenue.

I am by no means starting an organized protest.  If I had the time away from my real career, I would certainly contribute more to such a cause. (Perhaps a ‘Be Gone With Wilpon!’ protest?)  I am, however, voicing my opinion on this matter, and I hope that others who read my post feel the same as I do about the Mets’ current situation.