By Jason Keidel
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Every time the men who run the Mets pout before a forest of microphones, it is we who become angry. Very few powerful people know when to quit, and with each hollow assertion and rampant denial, Fred Wilpon is being selfish, defiant, and destructive.
Wilpon reminds you of that medieval soldier in the comedy classic, “Monty Python and the Holy Grail,” who keeps charging after losing a limb. “It’s just a flesh wound!” he bellows after another appendage is hacked off. Eventually, legless and armless, he shouts alone, as his enemy just walks away.
Furious Mets fans are using some of this story as a pretext to bash a team that has given the city just one World Series title in four decades. Others are convinced that Fred Wilpon was a wingman in Bernie Madoff’s criminal empire. Some say Wilpon saw nothing wrong, said nothing wrong, did nothing wrong. Those folks are in the minority.
My guess is that, vis-à-vis Madoff, Wilpon is more of a fool than a felon. A lot of legal terms are being tossed around a largely ignorant media (of which I am a member). But if “willful ignorance” is the disease Irving Picard says it is, then Mr. Wilpon is deeply infected.
At some point, the two symbolic advisors appeared on Fred’s shoulders – one good, one bad. We know which one got to Fred’s ear first. If someone tells you that you can double your money and all you must do is be quiet, what would you do?
(Thankfully, I’m not in that position. The lone beauty of being broke is that I don’t have to worry about my portfolio.)
This isn’t about the man’s right to his day in court. With each day he defies the wishes of his waning clientele, he hemorrhages money, talent, and trust. Even if Wilpon yanks the rabbit out of his hat, Madoff will still loom like a ghost over the family and the franchise.
Since I’m not a lawyer, I can’t tell you how profound Bud Selig’s powers are, or if he could somehow wrench the Mets from their owner. But an intervention of some sort is in order.
Speaking of interventions, Dwight Gooden…
There are no life-affirming updates for the Mets anymore, as though they’ve plunged into the vortex of an apocalyptic news cycle Every time Ed Coleman tells you about the pitching staff, he’s drowned out by Ponzi schemes.
Oliver Perez and Luis Castillo are still on the team. Johan Santana doesn’t plan to pitch until July. Doc Gooden is teaming with Doc Drew for a theatrical round of rehab. Even when the Mets are talented, they’re tormented. Gooden, the solemn face of two dynasties, pulled off the impossible exacta of being cherished by each fan base. Unless you revel in another man’s pain, it’s impossible not to root for him.
Fred Wilpon is another matter. A billionaire lamenting his demotion to millionaire is not a sympathetic stance, particularly in front of a jury. No matter the verdict, he will still have a limo waiting for him outside the courthouse, and a Learjet squatting on the tarmac. That’s why he must settle out of court and sell the New York Metropolitans.
For those of us who have never been stupid rich, we understand in some abstract way that some people are, that they sliver into some opulent pocket of the world once they leave the stage. But in this case, we’re having it thrown in our face. We’re being asked to feel sorry for wealthy men who are being forced to remove a zero from their checkbook.
If I sound like a socialist, I apologize. I’m a robust capitalist. In America, the scoreboard has the final word. And the Wilpons lost.
Feel free to email me: Jakster1@mac.com
Do you agree that Wilpon is being “selfish, defiant, and destructive”? Let us know in the comments below…