Doug’s Dugout: Hot Flashes and Frozen Treats
In Doug’s Dugout today we discuss, The Wilpons, Jose’ Reyes moving cross-town, and other frozen thoughts:
The only truth gleaned from the news that the Wilpons are seeking a partner to buy 25% of the Mets is that they may have lied to Mets fans. Since the Bernie Madoff scandal broke, and their names attached, they claimed their losses would have nothing to do with the day to day operation of the team. That turned out to be a bold faced lie (sorry I meant Gains!).
You only have to look at the paltry amount of money spent this off-season (around $8.1 million) on “talent,” to fill a plethora of holes. The team abstained on second and third tier talent (I’m conceding the Cliff Lee’s and Jason Werth’s of the world-but the going rate for a 200-inning hurler is $5 million per) and Sandy Alderson (I’ll get to him in a minute) was in witness protection for that bidding.
Maybe he got lost driving from yard sale-to-yard sale sifting through the broken toy bins.
But, I digress, back to the fearless leaders, Fred and Jeff. It’s obvious that they are up to their neck in bad debt and the trustee assigned to recoup money to Madoff’s victims-including many non-profit religious organizations, must look like Fred’s boyhood friend, Sandy Koufax, peering in at them from thirty feet-three inches.
Turns out the well-heeled Long Island real estate family (and relatives) might’ve profited mightily from Madoff’s elaborate Ponzi scheme. Skewing the initial and prevailing speculation that he had lost his (custom made) shirt.
Sounds like selling only a quarter share of the Mets is merely a drop in the bucket for reeling owners. Numerous reports have the Wilpons on the hook for closer to the one billion dollar mark. Ouch! (Parking and beer just went up to $25 a pop next season).
Coupled with the debt for Citi Field, the park that keeps on taking (money and home runs), that might lead to a buyer with a much bigger voice than anticipated. That is about the best news Mets fans have heard in a long time. However, you can bet the Wilpons will hold onto the deciding one percent at all costs.
I suppose if I was investing with funds run by Madoff and the monthly statements were coming back in the beautiful black, I would rationalize that he was a sagacious investor and look the other way too. According to reports, the Wilpons and brother-in-law and Mets front man Saul Katz, had more accounts on Bernie’s cooked books than empty seats at Citi Field last season.
Madoff, the lout, who declined to attend his son’s funeral after he hung himself from an exposed pipe in his high-priced Tribeca loft, must’ve looked like God to the Wilpons. The problem with money is what to do with it when it piles up as high as snowbanks (something that is foreign to most of us). When you are rich you look to stash it anywhere but the mattress.
When the gains are good you keep funneling more and more, I suppose. The only difference between the Wilpons and the little old lady who lost her life savings is they were shrewd enough to withdraw theirs from the top of the house of cards before a stiff breeze blew it down.
Furthermore, it is crystal clear why they brought Alderson in. Who has more experience than him building a team on a shoe-string budget? A Rule Five draft pick here, a pitcher on the mend there. He has gone on record that it’s not a given that the $50 million coming off the books in 2012 will not be re-invested in the free agent market to replace expiring deadwood contracts (although, he back peddled after the backlash).
Way to inspire the faithful, Sandy! Not only have you spent like a pauper for 2011 you might go the same route the following year.
Just look at Alderson’s salary (in the $3 million per neighborhood). He did not give the Mets a break there (and he brought in high-priced underlings) and he’s a strong enough personality, because of his experience, that he can handle the heat of being accused a bean counter.
So when Reyes flees to the Yankees he can offer his explanation in dulcet tones. Moreover, it would be a perfect fit for the Bronx Bombers. A chance to add a dynamic leadoff hitter with the built in excuse of playing the same position as Derek Jeter. The Captain will realize the team is improved offensively and defensively, and at 37 quietly move to the outfield. Brian Cashman and the vindictive Steinbrenner boys will consider it an extra bonus that they stole him from the hapless Mets.
(As Andy Rooney says, “you ever notice how..” the Yankees always acquire ex-Mets with gas left in the tank-Straw, Cone, and Feliciano, and the Mets add Bill Sudakis, Elliot Maddox, and Andy Phillips?)
All I can say is with all the turmoil surrounding the Mets, I’d still rather hear the sounds of baseballs hitting bats and gloves then the roar of my snow blower clearing my lost driveway again. Maybe next winter I’ll hire the newly formed, “Wilpon Family Snow Removal Contractors,” for the job.
About the Author: Doug Branch
Doug has been sports writing since 1983. He first wrote about the Mets at spring training that year, and his first interviewee was surly catcher Ron Hodges. He currently writes for Mets Inside Pitch, among other magazines published by Scout Publishing-which is owned by Fox Sports. He began following the team during the Wes Westrum era, and redeemed many Borden milk coupons for free Saturday baseball. The night of Tom Seaver's imperfect game against the Cubs, he was in line to buy a ticket when the windows slammed shut and abject disappointment ensued.
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