A Solution From A Discouraged Mets Fan
Despite the recent favorable New York Mets-Madoff victims settlement (and the claim by some that it lifts a dark cloud from the team), the image, in my opinion, of the entire Mets organization is as cloudy as it has ever been.
“Now I guess I can smile, maybe take the day off,” co-owner Fred Wilpon was quoted as saying following the decision. Mr. Wilpon is kidding himself. He will only smile if he also believes he is living in Never-Never land.
Rather than $1 billion, which the trustee originally sued for, Fred Wilpon and Saul Katz, co-owners, came out owing only $162 million to Madoff victims, and because of various clauses, may end up paying much less than that.
There is only one out. The current leadership must sell the team to clean up its image — unless the team goes on a 50-game winning streak, which is about as likely as my flying self-propelled to the top of the Empire State Building. Because of the Wilpon-Katz financial mismanagement, the team has had to let go of several of its major stars, has experienced the biggest drop in payroll from year to year of any team in baseball history, has been dormant in the off-season in any attempt to bring in new talent and last year had the lowest attendance since 2004.
While the Mets have sold 12 shares in the team worth $240 million, which will help pay off debts, it is my observation that cash is tight and it will take years to “right” the situation. In addition, the ownership has just been through a year plus of bad publicity questioning the integrity of Wilpon-Katz. Huge sums were made in recessionary years…which would make any investor raise an eyebrow.
One example was the “exclusive” opportunity that Wilpon-Katz offered only to a select group of friends of theirs who were willing to invest millions, blind. The rule was that invitees could not be told who would manage the money or what instruments the money would be invested in. These guys were “Madoff-Ponzi Scheme” friends if ever there were ones.
The other day I got an offer in the mail saying that if I buy a ticket to the opening game, I will get a free ticket to the following Saturday and Sunday games free. Clearly, desperation is setting in.
How do New Yorkers turn their heads and look the other way? They don’t and they won’t. The Mets are in trouble. No major New York institution (or one in any city) can survive and prosper when there are morality questions at the top.