MMO Fan Shot: Is The Tide Shifting For Fred Wilpon?

An article by posted on January 31, 2012

If you had asked me twelve months ago if the Wilpons should sell the Mets, I’d have been pretty emphatic in my support. In the six months that followed, new reports surfaced describing the debt the Mets were in and it seemed that number grew by $100 million from each report to the next. The most recent tally has it in the ballpark of $450 million. In the six months since then, I found my support for the “sell-sell-sell-sell” portion of the fan base waning (was there ever any other portion?)

First it was a $40 million loan, then it was an extension on paying back last year’s $25 million loan. Then Bud Selig, the Wilpon’s biggest supporter, was extended two years in his position as Commissioner, and now it seems that over the last couple of months the stars have been aligning for the Wilpons in their effort to maintain control of the team. Irving Picard’s lawsuit, which itself is about as criminal as Bernie Madoff’s scheme, has not progressed the way the trustee of Madoff’s victims had hoped. We’ve seen charge after charge dismissed. The total amount being sued for is decreasing, and now the latest blow, a motion from the Wilpon’s side to dismiss. The motion will likely be denied, but I think it speaks volumes about where the case stands now; that the evidence against the Wilpons is apparently flimsy enough, or even non-existent, for that option to even be entertained.

There is plenty that says the Wilpons might not be forced to sell and can ride out the lawsuit, thus maintaining ownership. This is why I feel the Wilpons should hold on at this juncture.

We’re almost in February, and as of this writing, the biggest impact name on the market is Edwin Jackson. Nothing against E-Jax, but the well’s fairly dry. The Mets 2012 roster is pretty much set, except for another few minor league deals for depth or maybe the low-base guaranteed deal for one of several fifth outfielders linked to the Mets. Even if the best case scenario for Wilpon-detractors comes true and a new owner is put in place tomorrow, there’s nothing he can do to significantly improve the 2012 team. Even if he was able to take on salary at the deadline, the Mets probably wouldn’t be in a position to buy, anyway.

But we all know a change of ownership stretches out a long time.  It was in April when MLB merely took over the day-to-day operations of the Dodgers, wasn’t till November when Frank McCourt agreed to sell, and now three months later, they’re only in the second round of bidding with ten potential ownership groups still in the running. The Dodgers won’t be sold till at least the summer; roughly 15 months after MLB took the first step. Think that’s a long time? Imagine the process with the team in the New York market.

I’m of the opinion that considering how long the process is to sell the team and how the lawsuit is progressing; it is in the best interest of the Mets and their fans for the Wilpons to remain owners. I think the Wilpons will ride out the storm quicker than it would take a new owner to step in. Let’s not dismiss the track record of the Wilpons, either. They have spent the most money in the National League the past few seasons. That and that alone is the sign of a good owner. They will do what’s necessary to win. Also take into consideration their charitable efforts, their community outreach and the respect they’ve earned throughout baseball.

How can we even be certain the new owner will do what’s necessary to win? We know the Wilpons would spend $150 million on payroll. How do we know that’s in a potential new owner’s budget?

Another thing I’d like to touch on is a shift in the landscape of ownerships. It’s no longer a family business, now its consortiums. Call me old fashioned, but I like it when my team is owned by one person or family with one agenda.  Skim this article on espn.com about the sale of the Dodgers and look who’s still in the running. All “groups headed by.” I don’t think something like that ever works in the best interest in the team, it works in the best interest of the investors and team success is usually a happy accident; a by-product of business decisions. It didn’t work for Nelson Doubleday, did it? I prefer the operation of the team be the family business, not a business venture.

Look, if Picard has an ace up his sleeve or one last smoking gun that could actually convict the Wilpons, then this article has been a waste of 45 minutes for me; I’d be back where I was twelve months ago. But in light of the fact that there seems to be no evidence of any wrongdoing on the part of the Wilpons, at this stage of the lawsuit and what the sale of the Dodgers is proving, I think the best option for the Mets and their fans right now is sticking with the Wilpons.

What do you think?

This Fan Shot was submitted by Rob. Have something you want to say about the Mets? Share your opinions with over eleven-thousand Mets fans who read this site daily. Send your Fan Shot to GetMetsmerized@aol.com.

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