Daily Archives: May 24, 2011

Part II: Wilpon, Mets, Madoff and Scandals

Tuesday May 24, 2011

MLB reports:  In yesterday’s report on the Mets, we took a look at the New Yorker interview that was just released with Mets owner Fred Wilpon.  After making many comments on the state of his team and star players, Wilpon by not hold backing is now facing the wrath of theNew York fans and media.  The best comparison that I can make is the John Rocker interview with SI, a no-holds barred discussion that left Rocker’s career in the dust and from which he never recovered.  Please click here to view yesterday’s post if you missed it to read the quoted damaging words uttered by Wilpon that have tarnished himself and his team.  It will give you as the readers a sense of the controversy in place and what has led to the continuing events surrounding the Mets on a now daily basis.

From the aftermath of yesterday’s media storm, some new comments and developments have emerged.  Firstly, son Jeff Wilpon, the Chief Operating Officer of the Mets, has apparently sat down with some of the named players from his dad’s interview to help “clear the air.”  Given that the elder Wilpon is responsible for the war of words, it is a shame and disappointing that his son was sent in to clean up his mess and attempt damage control.  The offended players would likely have had more respect for Fred Wilpon if he had faced them personally and come clean with his errors.  It seems that Fred Wilpon will never learn and he continues to dig a deeper hole for himself and one that he likely will not be able to escape at this point.

The first player response to the Wilpon interview came from Mike Pelfrey.  The baseball world was unsure as to how the players on the team would react to their owner’s disparaging remarks.  In true tongue-in-cheek fashion, Pelfrey became the darling of the media and Mets fans by having the following to say about Wilpon:

“I think guys will be upset,” pitcher Mike Pelfrey said. “But we’re all a family: ownership, coaches and players. Sometimes people say things they regret. It’s a mistake and you learn from it. Maybe next spring when we have our media workshop for the players, Fred can come and sit in on it.”

I do not expect Pelfrey to receive any reprimands from his team for his statements.  While it would be fitting to hear how the other Mets players feel about Wilpon’s interview, most will likely remain neutral or keep their opinions to themselves.  While most of the Mets players are likely insulted and hurt by Fred Wilpon’s statements, the players likely only want a resolution and the ability to play ball and have a winning team at the end of the day.

Another story emerging from the Mets is another Bernie Madoff side note.  Last week, a story emerged that Bobby Bonilla, a former Mets player, is being paid by the Mets starting this year $1.2 million for the next 25 years.  The story is that the Mets chose this delayed compensation plan over paying Bonilla a lump sum $5.9 million dollars for the 2000 season.  By delaying the payment, the Mets in essence are paying Bonilla $29.8 million for a $5.9 million lump sum payment, abased on an 8% interest rate paid (a nice investment for Bonilla indeed).  The math is mind-blowing and critics have been blasting the team for such poor financial decision making.  Well, according to SI, the Mets at the time of making the decision turned to Bernie Madoff to help them plan how to get rid of the malcontent Bonilla after the 1999 season.  Rather than releasing the player and paying the remaining money owed to him, the Mets created the delayed payment plan on the basis that Madoff would invest the Bonilla money with an expected rate of return between 10-12%.  Now the Mets likely have lost the invested money due to Madoff’s actions and are on the hook for the Bonilla debt that will haunt the team financially for the next 25 years.  Similar deals were struck with former pitchers Bret Saberhagen and Tom Glavine, which will hurt the team’s future payrolls as well.

Wilpon Gate is far from over and after the Madoff financial scandal and the New Yorker interview, we will continue to hear about Fred Wilpon for the next few coming weeks and likely months.  Wilpon is on record to trying to sell 49% of the stake in his team but based on his shaky financial and credibility standing, the state and ownership of the Mets will be in flux until a final resolution can be arrived at.  Until then, expect rumors and stories to continue to circle the team in a circus-like atmosphere.  With the both the Mets and Dodgers in crisis mode, it is up to Bud Selig and Major League Baseball to step in and stabilize two of the leagues historical and proudest franchises.  Successful and productive teams in Los Angeles and New York is what baseball fans expect and deserve.  The challenge is out to Major League Baseball:  my hope is that they can hit a home run in both cases.

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