Keidel: Right Said Fred
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By Jason Keidel
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Assuming you don’t get the obscure pop culture reference in the title, Fred Wilpon is more than too sexy for his team; he’s too tired, too jaded, and too fated for failure.
I called for Mr. Wilpon to sell the team long before this. Not just because of his cash or his comments, but because he’s the face of a floundering squad. Wait until next year! has been the Mets’ mantra for too long, and while there’s a slice of every New Yorker’s soul that accepts (if not expects) the Mets to fall slightly short of the Yankees, the disparity, the chasmal gap between the pinstripes and proletarians is too great even for the most rabid Mets follower.
His semantic suicide in both The New Yorker and Sports Illustrated merely confirm what the bulk of the fan base already knew.
The Mets have shrunk in the Yankee shadow for too long and, frankly, there’s no reason to. The Mets have everything the Yankees have, and this is coming from a Yankees fan. The Mets have a network, a new park (a far more charming park than the cold, corporate, limestone they call Yankee Stadium) and a nine-digit payroll. And they have this very station, the largest and greatest on Earth (he said so modestly), and all its talent dedicated to calling and dissecting their games. More than a few hosts on WFAN share your pain and long for the gain.
Wilpon has resided over too much morbidity, physical and metaphysical. He built a park for the Mets and dedicated it to the Dodgers. He pledged to take Pledge to Doc Gooden’s signature on a Citi Field wall, branding it graffiti. Several of his starters skipped that trip to Walter Reed (which I captured in my column last year, “Three Blind Mets”). He said before this season that everything was fine, that the Mets were replete to compete despite the avalanche of evidence to the contrary. He handed his money to Madoff. He lost to the Yankees in 2000 and seemingly every series since. He hired Alderson as a de facto white flag, a green light to detonate the foundation of the franchise.
Mind you, I have nary an issue with Wilpon’s remarks. His assessment of Wright was spot-on. Reyes is not worth $140 million, and Beltran is indeed a fraction of his former brilliance. Should Wilpon have kept his tongue tied? Of course. But what owned of this team wouldn’t be flummoxed? George Steinbrenner made hay on hammering his star players for decades. It didn’t stop his team from winning seven World Series titles.
The part Wilpon missed is pointing to where this 12-point buck stops: his shop. Joe Buck hands the World Series trophy to the owner, not the shortstop. Nowhere in Wilpon’s inverted mea culpa did he say that he screwed up anytime, anywhere. That is a sign of insecure management.
Wilpon has often said he’s a fan first, owner second. If he’s sincere in his self-diagnosis, he will take one for and from his team and forfeit his beloved franchise. It may not feel fun or fair at first, but the team and the town will eventually thank him, perhaps remembering him in the rare light of successes his squads experienced over the last quarter-century, including 1986.
You can’t charge Porshe prices and deliver a Prius, which is what the Metropolitans are asking you to tolerate. You’re sick and tired of being sick and tired. The swelling swaths of empty seats on sunny days reflect the volcanic, vitriolic disgust you feel about the former Kings of Queens.
Fred Wilpon told Sports Illustrated that the Mets will lose $70 million this year. He lost you long before that.
Feel free to email me: Jakster1@mac.com
Is the writing on the wall for the Wilpons? Let Keidel know in the comments below…