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What happened to the game I love, Bernie?

By John Rahilly
               When the News broke about Bernie Madoff victimizing the Wilpons and subsequently the Mets, I said to myself oh-oh.  Then Fred Wilpon told us the fraud had nothing to do with the baseball operations, so I said ok.  The media has been skeptical ever since the initial news broke, but I took the Mets at their word that all was well in Mets Nation.  To that end, some inauspicious off seasons have come and gone, with the Mets being inactive for a variety of reasons - or so they say. 
Wasn’t it Fred who proclaimed to the fans through WFAN, that we are about playing meaningful games in September?  It has been a while, and per the ownerships M.O. – they tend to react to public opinion.  The cynic in me has asked, “Is it just a coincidence that since the initial Madoff debacle the Mets have been quiet in the offseason and bargain hunters, or am I reading way too much into the tea leaves, and the Medias cynicism?
                Now I consider myself a fairly rationale, and almost educated person.  So when Sandy Alderson was hired, and Omar Minaya was kicked off the island, it was a “no brainer for” me.  I thought it made sense, and wanted this organization once and for all, to be rebuilt from bottom to top, from the bush leagues to the Mets Clubhouse. What we needed is a new culture and a new attitude, we want a professional organization.  Now with the news this week I ask, did they tie Omar’s hands?  Why did they not fire him outright?  Why are they having him sitting in limbo - if he was terminated or reassigned for cause?
The new GM needed payroll flexibility, Based on this, I could give Sandy Alderson some time to rebuild this thing - or mess depending on who you talk to.  My Blogs to date supported the new strategy, and will continue to do so.
During this and last hot stove season, In the back of my mind, I often questioned was this Madoff debacle, contributing to the moves being made, or more accurately, not being made?  There were rumblings a while back that the Wilpons were being sued, but again we heard no problem in Los Mets Nation. 
                Then late last week while on a late afternoon break at my regular job, and sitting in a conference room overlooking the ocean, I said to myself what a beautiful view, then my Blackberry goes off and I see a message from the Mets and the Wilpons.  I thought it was one of those messages to get me to buy tickets; seemingly I get these emails weekly from Mets.Com.  This e-mail was very different; it said the Mets may sell 20% 25% to strategic partners, to hedge against the lawsuit, we are told this will not impact the Baseball Operations - again. 
Now according to Bloomberg.com it says, “Sterling Equities Inc., the owner of the Mets, Mets LP and Fred and Jeff Wilpon were sued by the trustee liquidating the Madoff business, Irving Picard, on Dec. 7 in U.S. Bankruptcy Court in Manhattan. Picard, in court papers, said that Mets LP had two accounts with Madoff that involved taking out $47.8 million more than the Wilpons invested. Picard has followed the line that net winners are subject to lawsuits to claw back any surplus over their original principal. Picard has sued hundreds of Madoff investors who withdrew more from their accounts than they originally invested”.  Moreover, this may all come out in the wash this Monday in bankruptcy court.
Then I hear in the deal brokered by Fred Wilpon with the taxpayers and the city of New York to pay for Citi Field, the bond price dropped after the Mets made their announcement that things might not be ok after all.   Today I hear Martin Luther King III, and others want in, but want some say in the operation.  I also read that the Mets have been trying to sell a piece of the team under the radar for months now but could not because of this pending lawsuit. All I know – in the words of Family Guys Peter Griffin, “What a Freakin Mess”               
If Fred Wilpon was an electoral candidate he may drop out of the race or lose the election.  Fred owns a team in the same town as the Yankees so his reputation pales in comparison to the Yankees, but at least he trumps James Dolan.  To that end, Fred has not had the best reputation.  When they say “Freddie Coupon” fans are not professing their love for the man, but the man that does do good in the community with Mets Charities and other organizations and efforts. 
                These newest allegations and speculation call into question and, or are attacking a man’s credibility and moral and ethical fiber.  Seemingly they made a more money with Madoff then they lost.  I bet many wish they could say the same.  Some say why did you not come clean and say you made money while others lost life savings – we don’t know all the facts,  but what we are hearing seemingly does not bode well for the home team, Mets Nation. 
I don’t proclaim to know all the details of this sorted mess, or profess to know that I ever will, since the matter is sealed.  I know this; I do not think a man should be convicted until he receives due-process – that starts Monday.  The credibility of the Mets organization and its ownership are being questioned once more.  Not because of the comparisons to the Yankees success or the Mets annual dysfunction – but because of a lack of confidence in what I hear from Fred, Jeff and Saul Katz .
Mr. Wilpon I hope your clean, but If I find out you made a profit, while working families lost it all and said nothing,  that would disturb me morally and ethically.  I may consider never paying to see a team play that is owned by you.  Remember you are a public family and are held to higher standard, much like a player.  Isn’t that what you say about your players that did not behave in the past, ala Vince Coleman and Bret Saberhagan?  If you made money with Madoff as reports indicate, you will need to tell us why you never came clean and said I made a profit with Bernie, your lifetime friend and neighbor.  I even recall you saying that Bernie broke your trust.  With that said, I will believe you, until you are proven guilty.
Another big mess to be dug out from this January, one that may not thaw out, or get cleaned up until well after pitchers and catchers report – which is less than 1 week away.   I don’t know about you, but seemingly I am not as excited now about the prospects of resigning Jose Reyes or any other free agent next offseason. 
Once again the circus is alive and well in Flushing Queens.

2 comments:

  1. It has taken way to long for ownership to leave just like it took Bernie to long to rot in prison.

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  2. On one hand, this group one one World Series, lost another and was one strike away from getting there in 2006. They are typically in the top 3 in payroll, except 2011. Compared to other teams, not named the Yankees, they stack up fairly well if we base it on results - their dysfunction aside.

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