New York Mets owner Fred Wilpon has been named the Chairman of MLB’s new Finance committee. Yes, you read that right. The man who was deeply involved in one of the worst Ponzi schemes of all time, is MLB’s new Finance Committee. It is a perfect example of what having friends in high places can get you. It is no secret that the Wilpons are close friends with outgoing MLB commissioner Bud Selig.
Much to most Mets fans ire, this is really the only reason that the Wilpons are still owners and have been able to get away with their lack of spending. People have wondered why Selig forced Miami Marlins controversial owner Jeffrey Loria to spend money in a relatively small market, but has allowed a team in the world’s biggest market to have a payroll in the bottom half of the league for years.
Now let’s get one thing straight. There was a time when, believe it or not, Fred Wilpon was a decent owner. A minority owner when the Mets won their last Championship in 1986, he split Ownership duties with Nelson Doubleday by the time the Mets got back to the big stage in 2000.A couple years later,it was just him. And, it was nice. The Mets kept a high payroll, they kept their win total up, and everything seemed to be fine. Then Bernie Madoff happened. Madoff hurt a lot of people. In one of the worst Ponzi schemes ever, he got away with about $18 billion.
Fred Wilpon actually made money off of this (about $300 million) and whether he did so knowingly is doubtful. But what hurt is the following lawsuits. Because he made money off of Madoff, most people assumed he was in on it. What really happened, probably, is that Madoff helped a buddy out, but in a really sleazy way. But those lawsuits hurt. Not only their wallets, but their reputations.
Mets fans began to turn on the Wilpons. He was giving the team a bad name, fans weren’t too pleased with how Brooklyn Dodgers-esque Citi Field was, and the team was awful. If there was a single moment to begin the era of the Mets recent futility it was the Madoff scheme. Mets General Manager Omar Minaya was fired, as the team wasn’t putting up results and the farm system was barren.
Sandy Alderson was brought in to run the Mets money ball style and that’s what he’s done. He’s been able to build up an amazing farm system, but hasn’t had the money to supplement that young talent. It appears that the Wilpons have stopped caring, and at the same time MLB too. You’d think that with World Series ratings so low, they would want a New York team in there, right? But, again, having friends in high places gets you really far. Most Mets fans, like myself, were hoping this would end with the election of Rob Manfred as commissioner, that maybe the Mets would finally be saved. But no, it appears the Wilpons are as good friends with him as Selig. This move proves that baseball has no plans on saving the Mets, and it’s got plenty of people mad.
Even Fox Sports’ Ken Rosenthal, wrote about how MLB had to eventually step in and do something. Yahoo! Sports columnist Jeff Passan even reported that the Mets estimated payroll will be lower than that of the Kansas City Royals, Cincinnati Reds, Milwaukee Brewers, whose markets COMBINED are half of the size of New York’s.
It’s this type of cheapness that has kept the Mets from getting guys like Troy Tulowitzki and Nelson Cruz, among others. The Mets don’t need to spend like the Dodgers or Yankees, but being in the top 5 would be nice. The team is not far from being awesome. So, why does Fred Wilpon, or his son Jeff, not care? More importantly, why doesn’t MLB?