NEW YORK (WFAN/AP) — MLB’s stunning takeover of the Dodgers this week left many wondering: Are the Mets next on Bud Selig’s to-do list?
Speaking Thursday, Selig wouldn’t go into details about why he decided to take over the Dodgers, but he did draw a distinction between the problems of Los Angeles and those of New York.
“There are a lot of differences between the Mets’ and Dodgers’ situations,” Selig told the Associated Press Sports Editors. “Comparing the Mets to the Dodgers, not only is it not true, it’s just not accurate.”
The Mets are not only struggling for cash but are mired in the Bernard Madoff investor fraud scandal. While owners Fred Wilpon and Saul Katz are seeking to sell a minority stake in the team, Dodgers owner Frank McCourt was becoming more and more leveraged.
“The situations are clearly not similar, and that’s in a myriad of ways,” said Selig. “So if you ask me is the analogy is a proper one, I say no.”
Selig also expressed confidence the Mets will be able to sell a minority interest in the team and raise money, relieving some of the pressure caused by a lawsuit from the trustee seeking to recover money for victims of Madoff’s Ponzi scheme.
“I’m very confident that they set out a process to sell part of their club, and the person handling that is very confident that can happen,” Selig said, a reference to investment banker Steve Greenberg, a son of Hall of Famer Hank Greenberg. “Hopefully, the Mets will find a suitable partner and do it posthaste at a number that reflects the health of the sport.”
According to Forbes, the Mets have lost 13 percent of their worth. Listed by the publication at $858 million last year, the franchise is now valued at $747 million. The New York Times reported the Mets lost $50 million in 2010, with similar losses likely in 2011.
The Mets borrowed $25 million last year from Major League Baseball, a loan Selig expects to be repaid “reasonably soon.”
“I keep reading they’re similar but they’re clearly not similar,” Selig said. “Anyone who portrays that as similar is wrong.”
The difference? Baseball officials were worried that money coming into the Dodgers from a new deal with Fox would be redirected to McCourt personally and would not be used for team operations.
Steve Soboroff, hired Tuesday as the Dodgers’ vice chairman, said baseball’s concerned were unjustified and Selig’s decision was “irresponsible.”
McCourt’s planned deal “should be the model for other baseball teams. But Frank is being picked out,” Soboroff said. “He said, ‘We meet these requirements.’ Other teams, like in New York, don’t. He’s being picked out and selected.”
Unlike the McCourts, Wilpon is a longtime friend of Selig.
Former Dodgers and Yankees manager Joe Torre said he talked with Selig about the move, and that he hopes it produces a healthy franchise.
“It’s obvious the organization needed to be tended to, paid attention to, and I know it wasn’t easy for the commissioner to come up with the decision that he did,” Torre said.
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